To be openly ourselves nowadays
too often feels like resisting an assault:
routinely forced to learn
muscular new love songs, forever
bulking up for the strain
of trying to hold on to each other.
Daylight comes up
on another round of attacks, snipers
watching for us to dare
to be openly together and say,
beloved, here we can sing out loud
to each other, here we can be safe.
At night, assassins roll up on our homes
where we thought we could leave
the curtains open at least through dinner
so we could watch the city twinkle
or see fireflies grace the neighborhood
as night took hold. We dare to say
beloved, even in darkness there’s light,
however small, however fleeting;
then, too often, comes the shot
or the knife, the fire on the lawn.
Somehow, bewilderingly so,
so many still hate us here
who smile and pat our backs
in public, then slink into corners to plan
how we might be removed or
erased completely from our own lives.
If we ever escape the need to be
this perpetually strong, this might be
a good place to hold on to one another
more loosely and engage the softness
we keep behind armor now; until then
we flex, we watch, we love, we guard.