“The way human beings speak is so heartbreaking to me—we never sound the way we want to sound. We’re always stopping ourselves in mid–sentence because we’re so terrified of saying the wrong thing. Speaking is a kind of misery. And I guess I comfort myself by finding the rhythms and accidental poetry in everyone’s inadequate attempts to articulate their thoughts. We’re all sort of quietly suffering as we go about our days, trying and failing to communicate to other people what we want and what we believe.”
You kiss the back of my legs and I want to cry. Only the sun has come this close, only the sun.
| Shauna Barbosa, GPS
i killed a plant once because i gave
it too much water. lord, i worry
that love is violence.
— José Olivarez, from “Getting Ready to Say I Love You to My Dad, It Rains,” Citizen Illegal
“There are people out there who get annoyed at the story that Djuna Barnes, rather than identify as a lesbian, preferred to say that she “just loved Thelma.” Gertrude Stein reputedly made similar claims, albeit not in those exact terms, about Alice. I get why it’s politically maddening, but I’ve also always thought it a little romantic—the romance of letting an individual experience of desire take precedence over a categorical one. ”
Excerpt From: Maggie Nelson. “The Argonauts.” Apple Books.
I really wanted to kiss you the night we met.
We were both drunk and I had smoked way too many cigarettes, but if I hadn’t, I would have gone home and none of this would have happened. You clutched my icy fingers as we wandered the hills of the night. Every so often I would turn my head to observe your profile and speak directly into your ear. Something told me to liken your beauty to a Greek statue. Quietly, you tell me that I am beautiful too. Immediately by default my mind rejects the compliment, that you only said it because I did first, that you were only being polite, but my gut tells me to accept the statement with grace. You didn’t have to say anything at all, in fact I wasn’t expecting any sort of response except Thank you. The next day
You tell me you don’t remember much from that night, so I tell you we said some nice things to each other and held hands and it was really good to experience that sort of spontaneous human connection. We walk around and I thread my arm through yours without thinking, then ask if that’s okay, not knowing if you are the type to shy away from touch. You laugh at me and we walk together onto the bridge suspended by cables above a gorge where we cannot see except the stars and the sound of rushing water. Last night
You guided us the other path home and I think you knew in the moment that this was a dream that would escape upon waking, so when I ask you to take a photo of the pumpkin thief staggering in front of us, you flip the camera and it flashes twice. I think this is when I fully wrap my arms around your waist and you hold me too. I know this is when
I should have kissed you. Just a little bit on the cheek or the corner of your mouth to express a softness that words cannot. But I didn’t. But at least I bummed a Marlboro Gold from your friend in the stairwell and stood right where you were and engaged in talk that felt anything but small. At least we properly hugged goodbye. At most, we’ll see each other again soon.