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haley May 9
Footprints trailed behind us as we stumbled across the moon-bleached sand, watching driftwood float across the angry sea like rescue boats. The world around us was silent, except for the crash of waves tripping over themselves. Inside my head, it was anything but quiet. There was a tornado of sand spinning inside my skull, each grain of thought impaling my brain.

He looked over to me, light from the headlamp obscuring his face from my vision.
“I’ve started dating someone.” I studied the stiff blades of grass, poking up from the sand like little swords. “She’s a girl.”
He stood up from the burrow he stooped over, “Okay.”

After my parents separated, every life event suddenly required two different stories. When I went on a date, I would come home to mom’s house and throw off my bag. Its contents would spill over, coins lodging into the cracks in the wood floor. I’d sit on the countertop, knees folded in, recounting the events of the night as my mom eagerly listened. Days later, after the night had long since turned stale, I would tell my dad too. It continued like this for eight years.

When mom and dad were married, dad used to work all the time and mom stayed home with my brother and me. I was a fashion designer and my brother was my muse. On one occasion, I dressed him up in my favorite ariel swimsuit and a pink tutu. We pranced around the neighborhood, mom speed-walking behind us like a dog walker who couldn’t keep up with her pets.
“You have such cute daughters.” said a Lady on the way home. Mom just laughed.

Sometimes, I wonder why I chose to tell Dad first. Mom and I were closer. She was the first person I told anything and everything. But, they were never together anymore. I didn’t just have to come out to my parents once, I had to do it twice.

Maybe it was because I knew my dad wouldn’t ask questions. He would deal with it on his own.

My mom wasn’t afraid to ask questions, and she asked a lot of them. I told her a week after I told my dad. We were sitting in her car, outside the house. I studied the crack in the windshield. It had been there since I was ten. She nodded, and told me she loved me, and then turned her gaze to the side window.
“Do you want to have *** with a girl, then?” She asked me. Color flushed my cheeks and somehow I knew from the expression on her face that there was a right answer.
“No,” I said.

Three years after I came out to him, dad and I were sitting in the car. I watched the lines on the highway fly by as if being eaten by the front of the car. He turned his head to face me, his eyes still occasionally flicking back to the road. He adjusted the wheel accordingly.
“I thought that it would be something we’d get through.” He paused as if his words were clinging on to his tongue, unable to come out.

“Grandpa always tells me how proud he is that I’ve supported you and I’m thinking, It was never a big deal. I never think about it.”

“Yeah, that’s the crazy thing. I didn’t think that’d happen either, honestly” I shifted in my seat uncomfortably.

“Yeah.” He said. “Mcdonalds for breakfast?”

When I was younger, I liked to put on my mom’s clothes. I’d climb into my mother’s closet like it was a cave, pickaxe in hand. I’d stomp along the floors, my naked toes fumbling with carpet, my shadow dissolving in the surrounding dark. Along the walls draped shirts and dresses, sheathed in their suit bags like bats, hanging by their feet, sequin eyes glittering in the silent black. I’d show my mom my creations, my excavations and when the fashion show was over I’d stare into the mirror, wondering “What woman would come to fit this dress?” I stared into the silence of the cave, at my reflection, draped in the clothing of a woman I wished to become.

My mom would still ask me questions like the one she asked the day I came out to her. When I mentioned getting married and having a wife, she paused and leaned over the kitchen counter. “Do you think you’ll marry a woman?”
“I don’t know,”
“Are you going to have kids?”
“Yes.” I knew the correct answer to that one. She looked me up and down.
“Don’t you want kids with your DNA? With your husband’s DNA?”
“I guess.” I furrowed my brow “But I’d be okay with a ***** donor too.”

My dad was right, My sexuality was never a big deal for me. When I sat in the park with a girl I liked, our legs dangling from the swing set, I never thought about how she was a girl. Some people think that the word “homosexual” is etched on the inside of your eyelids and that every time you close them, you come face to face with reality. In truth, I hardly thought about my sexuality. But, I got the impression that my mom thought about it much more than I did.

Both my mom and my dad were supportive of me. Dad supported me with his silence and indifference. While mom supported me with her constant reassurance. Sometimes it felt like she was reassuring herself more than me.
“I got you this magazine,” she said to me one morning. It was a copy of Out.
I tossed it into the paper organizer by my desk and continued tapping on my computer.

I wanted more than anything to feel like mom wasn’t disappointed in my coming out. Or that she didn’t think of me differently because of it. At times, when she’d ask me about it, my skin would bubble and boil in anger.
“Maybe your next date could be a boy?” She would say, and my heart would plummet like a faulty elevator. I’d be teleported back to that day inside the car, staring at the cracks in the front window, perfectly symmetrical to the spiderweb splayed across the driveway in front of us.
haley May 9
Poetry is a connection between the writer and the reader, a way to say “This is what happened, this is how I feel, this is who I am,” and the reader will respond, “I understand, I feel for you, I notice you.”

Poetry is like a conversation in disguise. It’s the opposite of texting. Texts convey the message of something, but not the feeling. In poetry, the expression of feeling is constant and the message lies deeper.

Experiences are nontransferable. But, feelings are shared. Everyone feels loneliness, hopelessness, nostalgia, happiness in their own ways. In poetry, the writer makes the reader experience those feelings. Poetry is the text messaging system for feelings.
haley May 9
When I was eight, I didn’t know what a cemetery was, except that you were supposed to hold your breath in the car when you passed one. I didn’t know that the cemetery by my house had giant iron gates as if it was trying to keep something in. I didn’t know that when I’d walk in I’d see so many tombstones, so many people who had walked the same sidewalks I’d walked, people that might have spoken to me, that I’d watched on the bus or caught a glimpse of in the lines of cafes. I didn’t know that each of the tombstones had their own personality, like they were a beacon, proclaiming who’s crumbling body laid under them. I didn’t know that when you walked beside the tombstones, you were stomping on the forgotten lives, on the scattered bones pitted by burrowing insects. When I figured that out, I jumped back and knelt to the ground, my heart heaving.
haley May 9
My skin is like the big fleece coat my mother gave to me. The tag on the inside scratches my nape red, and the sleeves don’t fit quite right so they hang off my wrists and drip down into the sink when I wash my hands. My skin is like my father’s dirtiest pair of sneakers, coated with mud. So big, A whole family of mice could make a home in the shoe, nibbling on my toes and burrowing holes in my socks. My skin is not quite mine, handed down to me from generations and generations. Sometimes, I wish I could take it off and hang it up like a jacket, let it sit in the back of my closet, gathering dust, drooping from hanger like a cocoon from a tree branch.
haley May 9
A letter from you smiles back at me
from a worn envelope on my desk.
I wrote you back at the coffee shop.
The barista called your name
And I watched someone else claim it.
It felt so foreign in someone else's mouth,
like tinfoil on her tongue.
I wrote you a letter in every overheard conversation about love,
In every time I swore I saw you in my sleep,
And every letter begins with your name,
The epigraph of my heart.
haley May 9
We are both lovers of the hypothetical,
The Sunday morning eggs and toast
as we watch the wind comb the trees from our apartment window.
Sometimes I wonder If we are living our hypothetical,
If the threads of our lives have come together
to form one tapestry  
or if I am one piece of your puzzle,
if one day my name will come unstuck
and fall from your lips.

I am grateful to fall,
to have spent any fraction of time
With my name on your tongue,
And yours on mine.
haley May 9
The first time I said your name
It clung to my lips,
And dripped down my chin like honey.
Suddenly every other name
felt like a question and
You were the answer.
The first time you said my name
I knew I would never get it back.
It bounced off the roof of your mouth
And crawled into your throat.
I haven’t seen it since.
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