In memory 06.12.16
Pride, downtown San Francisco.
Even in this kaleidoscopic joy,
you get bombarded by signs
God hates fags Love Jesus
It reminds me of Tennessee, pulses
melding with electric beats, dizzy
shimmying in a warm neon cocoon,
safe haven from little disasters.
It reminds me of Tennessee, my friends
a tiny comfort as my mother was dying,
my friends in love, in tears, in the closet,
in their club, in danger.
All summer I tried to ignore my mother,
her neediness, so I could ignore my own.
I listened to his mother reject him, let
my heart break for him instead.
All summer we danced to oblivion,
in our own ways grasping for shelter,
the only one that would take us
when we couldn’t take ourselves.
Today I read in the news that Omar
frequented the club he devastated.
Years ago, I might have known him
by so many other names.
I remember how it felt to reach
for comfort and fail and keep failing,
sometimes fall so low you want
to pull someone else with you.
I remember grief as a hollow,
so sharp it felt like hunger,
so large I felt exceptional.
I want to march up
and ask who their parents are.
Are they alive? Your children? Dreams?
Do you remember how it felt to mourn them?
Jenny Qi (jqiwriter.com) is a writer and scientist and a co-founder of the storytelling podcast Bone Lab Radio. Her poems have been published in various literary journals, including ZYZZYVA and Rattle, and her essays appear in The New York Times and The Atlantic.