A Kind of Exile
We’re safely camouflaged as just two women
ambling toward the boulevard on a walk,
except there’s the carload of teenage boys
to think about, their arms waving,
their heads sticking out the windows
as they turn the corner, hell-bent
on speeding down our nondescript street
hoping to terrorize the locals.
You can feel the two-second lock
of the gaze of the one who gets it,
who yells out “Fucking dykes!” in a tone of voice
that muddles between announcement
and threat. The crowd at Starbuck’s
scans the street, too, as the car speeds off. Who? Where?
The street, the emblem of the public world,
long contested turf where not just lesbians,
but two women by themselves don’t belong. Of course,
my neighborhood is benign
as the milk and cereal in a suburban bowl,
except the car might be circling the block.
It doesn’t take much to go from there
to a very bad here. How many times
we’ve looked back to locate
just when a confrontation got nasty.
At least, it’s not night. There’s a Maytag store
just around the corner, and a chiropractor we know,
and it’s the twentieth first century, right?