L. Lamar Wilson recounts a heady encounter between two young people who may or may not be acting as a queer mirror of Abraham Lincoln’s younger years.
In Search of Abe in Dupont Circle
Men, women & in-betweens hold
hands, walk too close, sport heels,
ass-out jeans, crew cuts & spurs
& cackle at will as you & I skip
into the bookstore. Our prize:
The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln,
that treasure detailing the years before
his politics put Springfield on the map
& that silly top hat on his head, years
when he shared his bed with Joshua Speed—
whether because of tough times or a need
for companionship no one is certain.
But he did write him letters signed
Yours forever, & he did make room
in his presidential suite for David Derickson
when Mary Todd was away. She bore
Robert, Eddie, Willie & Tad & watched
three die before adolescence as Abe grew
more distant. No wonder she went insane!
you marvel as we meander past dildos & pornos
to the area marked HISTORY against the rear
wall near the register. We’re sure we’ll find him here.
But it’s just another biography that doesn’t tell
the rest of his story, our story. Buy it anyway!
you say, tracing each of my fingertips.
We set off marching with Abe to 17th & M
in our own little demonstration, laughing
at how phallic the Big Dipper looks tonight,
knowing we’ll get to say I do
to whom we want one day. You
open the B&B door for me & laugh
as the lobby becomes catwalk. I look down,
& in my arms, Abe’s eyes suddenly glint
against moonbeams & lamplight, seem sadder
than usual. I lose my balance & fall
against the elevator door, against you
waiting, holding it. You see what I can’t say
& grab my listless hand, swoon about you
& your woman, about Jason & me, our
bicoastal, piecemeal family, woven together
without pomp, by circumstance. Our
delicate tapestry unfolds as you lift
my T-shirt over my head & we slip
into bed, warm skin warmer now: still:
surer of its holy. Then, I envelop you,
rub your bald head & surrender to your visions
of a day when a femme stud like you,
like Sakia Gunn, can strut down any street
with their women or punks like me
without the specter of a knife, of a hand
with no love for itself or the love it upends.
When I call that man who’s said he loves me
for 102 days now—a feat as unprecedented
as believing he & I will wed & raise the child
I want you & me to make—& he doesn’t answer,
you hum bars of Atlantic Starr’s Always, shoo
the haints & omens in our commune, place my hand
on your belly, coo our waiting cherub to sleep.
Appears in Sacrilegion (Carolina Wren Press, 2013).
(Originally published in Connotation Press Online, February 2011)
See more of L. Lamar Wilson’s poetry here.
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