It is true that lesbians do not have families;
we have pretend family relationships.
We do not have mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters;
our sons and daughters do not count at all,
having no families within which to rear them.
And our lovers - there's nothing in that
but something mocking truth;
for you know it's true
that lesbians do not have families, like you...
We emerge, instead, complete from some dark shell,
beds and beds of us (like oysters,
what else would I mean?)
sea-born on stormy nights
with the wind in a certain quarter.
We rise and wiggle, all slippery and secret,
curling and stretching and glad to be alive,
untangling our hair from the wind and salt and seaweed.
We steal clothes from washing lines,
and once it's daylight, almost pass for human.
Glowing into warmth in the sun or a hard north wind
we lick the salt from our lips,
for now. And smile.
We live for a while, in the light,
despite your brutal laws
and your wish that we were not here;
we return to our beds by moonlight
to nurture and foster the sweet salt shells
that give birth to our lesbian futures.
And there we plot, in our dark sea beds,
the seduction of your daughters.
-- Jan Sellers
This poem was sent to me from The Wondering Minstrels. I'll include the comment:
A marvellous poem. The mocking tone is done just right - funny enough to make you laugh at the absurdity of it, indignant enough to make you realise that it's not perhaps quite that absurd. The truth pushed just far enough to make it satire. The poem works because underlying its ridiculous narration is a deep sense of alienation, of feeling unwanted and other in a world where choosing to live out your sexual preferences makes you sub-human. Plus there's the deeply erotic oyster / salt imagery, of course.
I know practically nothing about Jan Sellers. The Virago New Poets (Virago Press, 1993, edited by Melanie Silgardo and Janet Book) from which this poem is taken scribes her as a "part-time adult education worker, full-time lesbian and intermittent performance poet".
I know a little bit more about the poet. Or rather, I'm guessing it's the same person:-)