Question of Ecstasy
For Mollie Olgin, Mary Chapa, Gwen Araujo, Venus Xtravaganza, Brandon Teena, and and and
The sedan brays, playing bows
of our backs like a musical box
We shudder salutations. Outside
a sky-full of toads foam,
webby throats like mildewed silk.
We must pay an anguish
for the tillage of thick corn fields,
a crumpling of our heroic deviations,
naïve assumptions that native sedges
won’t out the tire well’s sated rattling.
Too often we relinquish our necks
in name of wanting something
similar, pedestrian, unheeding
the moment someone says you are asking for it.
To fight aloud is endlessly brave,
to shudder, extraordinary—
to give the belly permission to lift, masking
growls in amphibious sounds,
crickets cresting, the swell
of air hissing though windows, warning:
ecstasy is expensive, of anguish, of asking.
When it came, the slugs buried
themselves in the center of the amygdala,
still steaming. The everything—and we—
went quiet, still, answered.
July Westhale is a fierce femme writer with a weakness for botany and hot air balloons. She has been awarded fellowships from Lambda, Tin House, and the Dairy Hollow Writers Colony. Some of her recent work can be found at WordRiot, 580 Split, Quarterly West, Muzzle, ROAR, and So to Speak: A Feminist Literary Journal. www.julywesthale.com