When did you first know you were bisexual?
I will never know how the pleasure I give feels as a body receives it.
I fear strangers, Naomi, even the ones I love. I count their turned backs on the subway.
Some nights I fear even the subway itself—or is it my reflection in the yellowed glass, how I cannot see the city moving beyond me?
I want each round mirror to open as a window might.
Perhaps I always knew, but I mistrusted my knowing. I once stacked my journals to the height of a beloved and embraced them.
Every poem I’ve read to you has been written in this direction. Each word a line on the map I haven’t yet finished that leads me to you.
In college, I got ready for a party with two women I loved who loved each other.
I watched Diana flip Jean’s hair from her freckled shoulders before zipping her into her dress:
the same gesture I’d made in the mirror, alone, before I arrived at their apartment.
I watched them pass Jean’s mascara wand fluently between them, one’s licked fingers curling the other’s lashes, and a question split me at my spine—
like a hand gently cracking a new book’s cover, ready to understand.
Copyright © 2021 by Rachel Mennies. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 28, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
If I had one more day
I would write a love poem
composed of one word
repeated like binary code.
I’ll multiply it by the number
of days that passed
without saying it to you
and I’ll add the days
when I said it with no words
because I want to say it
more. And like a bee
gathering pollen, I’ll collect
everything ever said
in one word like a square root
multiplied by the power of ten.
I’ll count even that day
when my anger at you
or for you turned me into
a stone, and also the days
when I was away
sending my songs like
postcards to the lonely,
feeling you in every touch
of love I gave to the world.
I’ll count all my days,
even the nine months of days
before I was born, to say
this exponential, growing “I love you.”
Copyright © 2021 by Dunya Mikhail. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 2, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
How desire is a thing I might die for. Longing a well,
a long dark throat. Enter any body
of water and you give yourself up
to be swallowed. Even the stones
know that. I have writhed
against you as if against the black
bottom of a deep pool. I have emerged
from your grip breathless
and slicked. How easily
I could forget you
as separate, so essential
you feel to me now. You
beneath me like my own
blue shadow. You silent as the moon
drifts like a petal
across your skin, my mouth
to your lip—you a spring
I return to, unquenchable, and drink.
Copyright © 2021 by Leila Chatti. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 14, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.