Published on Academy of American Poets (

We Were Women, We Were Already Receding

You are someone with a penchant for dark
beers and pasts, walk-in closets and porch-step

smokes, who liked to ride it out to the depths 
of the middle of Lake Hopatcong, spark

the flint of your lighter, take longing drags
and talk about hipster coffee and sex

with whipped cream designs—and sometimes, your next
lover—and dive in to put out the fag,

swim to the deck to peel off your cotton
boxers and wring them in your fighter’s fist.

It’s too cold in the fall on the water
we fall in, too naked for falling in

naked and docking unanchored like this.
I remember. You’d kiss me and shiver.


Copyright © 2020 by Billie R. Tadros. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 2, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote the first draft of this poem in 2011, as part of what began as a series of dive bar sonnets about ex-lovers. As the poem evolved in revision, the bar disappeared altogether (‘dark/beers and pasts’ represent the remnants), and instead of being ‘about’ this one woman I had loved, the poem became a reflection on what it meant for me at this time in my life to be a queer woman. I was seeking the language and the form to articulate both the transience of this electric passion I had felt—really, for the first time—and the transience of the limited and stagnant understandings I had of gender and sexuality before meeting the woman who inspired her mythology in this poem. I think the constraints of the decasyllabic line and the seven rhyme sounds of the sonnet challenged me both to maximize the potential of the language we use culturally to talk about gender and sexuality, and also to recognize—and resist—the limitations of that language.”
Billie R. Tadros


Billie R. Tadros

Billie R. Tadros’s second book of poems is Was Body (Indolent Books, 2020). She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Theatre and an affiliated faculty member in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at The University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, where she lives.

Date Published: 2020-01-02

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