Day One, ROAR Showcase: Amulet by Candice Louisa Daquin

Amulet

No they didn’t write poems about you and they didn’t write poems about me
they didn’t write poems about us
we were a label, a provocation, pornography
perhaps sometimes a curse, misfortune
something to deride in that lazy way
people who find it amusing to poke fun, do
I imagine them now
sipping on over-sweet lemonade in lawn chairs
pointing metaphorically when we pass by
if younger they might say
“well those two probably look good doing it”
but as we’re past the sell by date of women
they stay with the flabby slurs, the ways of erasure 
subtle and time tested 
“those damn lesbians I bet they are
protesting-to-gain-attention-and-notoriety-again
won’t-they-just-quit-trying-to-queer-the-world”
(I wonder what they DO in bed?)
the jokes about too many cats, why don’t we have short hair
or wear wife-beaters (was that ever really a thing?)
it could be 1950 (but then we’d be arrested)
it could be 1975 (but then we’d just be beaten and raped)
it could be 1990 (dirty looks on the street, possibly pity, less attacks more isolation)
I remember a friend asking me why I hadn’t been attracted to her
as if being a lesbian made me a predator and ready for anyone
it could be tomorrow and
you’re let go at your job but you can’t prove why
despite your boss being a Christian Scientist
the newspaper has an article on gay commitment ceremonies
why gays shouldn’t push the envelope, they make it worse (by existing?)
you bring in the post, we still can’t marry though a
colleague got drunk hitched to a girl he knew 24 hours
last weekend in Vegas
we still can’t immigrate which is why I don’t drive and I work
two badly paid illegal jobs and don’t answer our phone
if you get sick your family will
block me from visiting or living in my own home
we laugh they would even take the cat (can’t you queer a cat?)
my friend who is a Catholic asks me why gay-marriage is
so important, after all it’s not illegal to be gay anymore what
else do you really need? She married her high school sweetheart (but it’s different,
how?)
I need to feel safe, equal, legitimized, your aunt once asked
why the law changing would achieve that, and we considered
her own 3 marriages and children and had no words
what can you say to that quiet, soft, almost lullaby dislike
an collar of intolerance imposed by the majority
that feels like half warm water
choking your right to live free. “At least it’s not
illegal anymore,” a teacher said, almost consolidatory
as if she knew what that felt like, or the wick of fear seeing police
lights in your rear-view mirror, (and one of them is COLORED the lead cop said
before asking us to place our hands on the car and assume the position)
When the law changed and the signs that said
marriage equals a man and a woman NO queers!
were removed
the neighbors asked us if we were going to get married
and have a big party in the back garden
if so they would ask their cousin to make a rainbow cake
and the smile on my face felt tight
like when you put spray on sun lotion and it dries in place
because all the grief carried around had become our children
all the fear had become our legacy
we were tired of explaining anything
or even attempting to be part of straight people’s trending celebrations
for finally possessing rights 
it seemed easier then
to just carry on being the way we always had been
trying to avoid detection
like it had been an amulet, whether we wanted it or not
that took us through the darkness, until we
no longer needed the light

Candice Louisa Daquin is of Sephardi French/Egyptian descent. Born in Europe, Daquin worked in publishing before immigrating to America to become a Psychotherapist, where she has continued writing and editing whilst practicing as a therapist. Daquin is Senior Editor at Indie Blu(e) Publishing, a feminist micro-press. She freelances as Writer-in-Residence for Borderless Journal and Poetry & Art Editor for The Pine Cone Review. Her next personal book of poetry is Tainted by the Same Counterfeit (Finishing Line Press, coming out 2022). Find more of her work at http://www.thefeatheredsleep.com

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