Aimea Brokedown Angel

Edward's Song

part of: Poetry

by Teresa Dunyati-Long

It is late afternoon.
You’re downing your last fifth.

I raise up the bedpan.
You pee,
and for a moment
during that unconscious act
I see your shame drain away.
You are purely Edward then -
as I remember you when you were a child -
all tremulous heart and intensely sensitive intellect.

You will die of liver failure before the sun rises tomorrow morning.
At last you will be free of pain.

You are gay.

Another person, much like you,
wears the badge of her genetic code proudly
for everyone to see.
Her name is Anne. She marched in a Gay Pride Parade yesterday.
Onlookers who can’t see the human soul shining through her eyes
pelt her with cautious indifference, curses or threats of hell.
Hell?
Yes, that has been created for her right here on earth,
where the touch of her lover
is absolutely forbidden -
and reaching for it means risking the loss of job, home, friends, even Life.

After the parade -
after she has opened the pages of her life for all to read,
friend and foe alike -
she will go home with the mate of her soul.
They have lived together for 20 years,
carefully biding their time.
Their house is paid for now, so they march openly
to let the world see that they are just people,
heart and mind and human body -
that at baseline Truth, we are all the same.

On the window sill in their kitchen herbs grow:
basil, tarragon, rosemary -
Anne’s favorites as she creates feasts in her gourmet kitchen featuring three ovens:
conventional, microwave, and convection.
If you were her friend she would invite you over for dinner,
prepare savory pasta
with broiled mushrooms and garlic,
basil and chicken,
then delight you with strawberry cheesecake
from her own recipe. She would serve you at her polished oak table
set with white linen and intricate silver,
fresh flowers,
and delicate red striped china
while antique jazz played in the background
brimming with candles and incense.
And you would be entertained!
Conversation is her greatest pleasure,
her wit insightful and chummy,
her repartee graceful and unashamed.

In her eyes I see the you who might have been.
But you are gentle and afraid,
wanting so much to please,
to be acceptable
as it is defined by this world:
husband and father, caretaker of woman and child.
How you wanted to be so upstanding, so respectable.

So you hid your Self in a musty cabinet in the basement of your own mind,
denied your heart,
and cursed the genes that make you who you are,
calling them God,
or the capricious Universe,
both out to get you,
calling your Self some terrible cosmic joke,
if only there were someone to supply a reasonable punch line.

Darkness falls.
You rise up one last time to swear again
that God and His inexplicable Universe have no power to force you into this thing,
this terrible thing – this being gay.
Three more swallows and down you sink
toward your grave.
You’ve been keel hauling your Self in alcohol’s ocean for twenty years.

Any moment now you will disappear into Death’s Gate.

It is well past midnight.

Your skin is so yellow,
your breathing labored.
I hold your hand as you suffer,
as I have always done.
I wait to cry until you are gone.

All the arguments are done.
I could not make see your own beauty with words.
My love for your secret Soul was not enough
to help you dream a place for the Self you were born to be
in this sightless world clumsily groping in the dark among ancient fears for meaning.
But, I can spend a lifetime singing the counter-song to the spell that killed you -
a mighty Song opening vast landscapes before heart and eye -
an invitation to wander unafraid
in the Garden of souls growing up in the world,
out there just waiting to be explored—
a Song to set the spirits of all who listen
soaring high and free,
until, passing at last above the clouds,
they see with the eyes of the Angel you have become,
learn that Love is a Sacrament
not bound by human definition -
one that comes at times and places of Its own choosing
to sanctify and unite -
that Its upwelling is always a Sign God is Present,
inviting us to honor and participate in the Power that nourishes Life as It arises
from the meeting between Darkness
and the making of our homes and our names within the Light,
where you dwell now
among the stars of the infinite sky,
lost wanderer,
who I cry for
as dawn finally comes
to this long and friendless night.

c. 1997 Teresa Hawkes