“Not So” by Rae Liberto

I am afraid there will be no place to be soft
that there will be great fear of being found open.

I am afraid of the extinction of tenderness
that love will become problematic
that the joining of hands will be seen as
holding back.

I am afraid to generate lies.

I am afraid to believe my untruth and to have
no whisper in my ear saying, not so.

I am afraid we will not find each other in the dark.

Sing me a song so I can feel you.

Do you hear that?

Those are the places where we touch.
Let us touch there, and here too.

I see you louder.

I hear your hands touching my hands brightly.

There is no use for our mouths anymore.
We are silent and singing to not be afraid.

What will become of our voices without an audience?

I watch as words become sharp teeth on shoulders
understanding well why we chew at each other.

I want my mouth on your mountains.

I keep finding stones under my tongue.
Small stones and smaller bones.
My lips create a seam around them
and my mouth sinks.

Don’t look.


This poem was originally published in Issue 5 Poets in Unity: Responses to the Election of Donald Trump.

Rae Liberto is a queer writer and nurse based in Oakland, California. Her work has been featured in Broad! Magazine, Lavender Review and forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom.



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