We pore over each painting, fantasizing
ourselves into the corner of a 19th century
basement studio. My breasts exposed
for the sake of your masterpiece, swelling
under your artist´s stroke. Pretense
after pretense, falling. Your marriage
a sham. You can´t touch me like that
in a museum, but I could very well plunge
over the edge of my imagination. Later
will be all glaze and splash. Wordless.
Listen, our lives are not our own.
The afternoon could, while we´re making
love, explode into a billion yesterdays.
I´ve never seen the strings of human
existence dangle so flamboyantly from
the fingers of madmen. How many tombs
of ruthlessness must we bury our poems in?
Hear my scream, more terror than climax.
Want, inconsequential. Still, if the earth splits
in two, I´ll cling to you, and it will be enough.
This city and all its tragedies.
Every street we cross pinned down,
groaning under the weight of something
that died, unwilling. A dream. An affair.
It´s almost enough to make me guzzle
moonlight from the broken beer bottle
at your feet. But you´re not after a poet´s
despair. You´re pulling me into the afterhours
gay bar, where I´ll discover an intoxication
of city nights under my frenzied hands.
More bird than human, I´ve crossed
waters to reach a land that didn´t wither
under the gaze of my desires. I revel
in the cliché of your balcony where
I´ve come to perch. Half-naked wine glasses,
morsels of Queso de Tetilla, pun brazenly
intended, the voluptuous Iberian night,
its dance, our hands all over its starry
hips. Even in sleep, you come again and again
to all the places my body has been clipped.
Dreaming it had gone a different way,
I skid off the rails of sleep, crash into you.
I came to you more wreck than I care to admit.
Bones are like that, marrowed out of letdowns.
Extraordinary, how the planets colluded
to lure us onto the same wrong train. How
you melted the scrap heap of my past
in one sizzling glance. Te quiero, you say,
and mean it. A wail sends us hurtling.
How our children will continue this poem.
In February of this year, I decided to try my hand at a short poem, longwinded writer that I am, and who better to model it after than my lifelong poetry idol, Adrienne Rich? I´d read her Twenty-One Love Poems many times and decided to write a love poem of my own, echoing hers. I set myself a limit of ten lines or less. After writing the first one, I realized how much I loved the way brevity forces you to scrutinize word choice, to pay attention to the silences between, above, below the lines; what´s left unsaid is perhaps even more urgent than what´s said. Thoroughly hooked, I wrote a second, a third, a fourth, at which point I figured I might as well go for all 21, floater included, which is how my manuscript, The Jolt: Twenty-One Love Poems in Homage to Adrienne Rich, was born. With these poems, I hope to celebrate the beauty and resilience of lesbian love, despite the (often harmful) obstacles hurled in our path.
Julie Weiss (she/her) is the author of The Places We Empty, her debut collection published by Kelsay Books. She won Sheila-Na-Gig´s Editor´s Choice Award for her poem “Cumbre Vieja,” was shortlisted for Kissing Dynamite´s 2021 Microchap Series, and was named a finalist for the 2022 Saguaro Poetry Prize. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her recent work appears in Rust + Moth, The Loch Raven Review, and Rat´s Ass Review, among others. Originally from California, she lives in Spain with her wife and two young children.