L. Lamar Wilson writes of a gay son, an ill mother, and their deeply felt intimacy.
Touch: A Letter to the Mother
I’ve driven 654 miles without sleep to make you better,
but when I ask how you feel & you thrust your breast
within my grasp & say See, it’s fine, I see it’s not. Cool!
I lie, then recoil. But you never have. Not when I came
to you, instead of Daddy, to show hair down there. Not
when I followed you, finally bra-free, to the bathroom
during commercial breaks to debate whodunit on The Young
& the Restless or to ask which jeans best showcased my assets.
Not when I danced around the house naked as a jaybird,
you’d say, never laughing at my Funny Girl monologues.
You didn’t turn me away when I said His name is Johnnie
& I love him, & you never said Brown boys can’t be sissies, baby,
though I wish you had, since now a lump the size of the head
of a tack may take away the only one who hasn’t recoiled
at what comes naturally to me. Your eyes mirror mine
at the sight of what something so small can do: like a lump,
like a lie. You’re OK, it’s OK slips from my lips & I reach
out & touch your scar to assure us the enemy lurking
will not bring shame where shame has no home.
Appears in Sacrilegion (Carolina Wren Press, 2013).
(Originally published in Obsidian, Fall/Winter 2009-Spring/Summer 2010)
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