Some mornings, leaving my girlfriend’s
house, I’d glimpse my whole existence,
all its eras, as a single arc—unified, unbroken.
I saw a person who kissed mostly men,
wrote poems in the prevailing style, owned a cat.
I saw a different person after that,
and before, I saw a little girl.
What was I saying? That there were
these different selves—I need you to see them—
they were shapes made out of lines, and then
one day they all began to cross, the lines,
as if by some obscure design
the analysis of which became the purpose
of my life. Or maybe the pattern was
my life, and its analysis
merely my living. Sexuality is,
after all, a formal concern:
finding for one’s time on earth
a shape that feels more native than imposed—
a shape in which desire, having chosen
it, can multiply.
And isn’t love itself a type
of rhyme? And don’t gender and genre share one root?
Maybe I really am a poet,
needing as I do from these imperfect sets,
which constitute a self, the lie of sense.
From Couplets (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2023) by Maggie Millner. Used with the permission of the publisher.