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Coming Out

Coming out is not a tableau.
The closet where I hid among the sweaters
does not burst into feathered orange flames
as if life were a Frida Kahlo painting.
There is no single moment when I
crossed the threshold into the light
eyes squinted, hair thrown back against the wind,
free from Plato’s Cave at last.
That stifling architecture follows me,
hot breath on my neck at midnight,
sweat along my fate lines every time
I shake new hands hello.
Rusty hinges flutter through my ribs
just below my collar bone, and I scream
out of burning dreams.
The new moon peers through my window,
resting on my shoulders like a cloak as I remember:
the closet is a sneaky, hungry thing,
mouth wider than a suicide,
teeth sharp as hell and ignorance.
Even when you’re free, it growls from the foyer
ready to snap you back into the lies
and the terror and disgust of lying.
Sometimes I have to brace myself against its lintels
so the world, its politics and fears
won’t shove me back in and lock the door.

Sometimes, I think it will.

(From The Memory Palace, a poetry memoir forthcoming from Norilana Books Jan. 1, 2009.)

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