I am intensely kind, sure

but you mustn’t mistake my

kindness for weakness –

 

akin to the breeze rustling

the Ginkgo trees, I can become

strong or gentle accordingly.

 

Your toxic masculinity may deter

others, but, honey, that won’t

work on me. And so I want

 

to write an ode to the queer

women who have shaped me. Who,

after an ACT UP meeting say,

 

“Why did this happen?” while

chain-smoking with the windows rolled

up the entire ride home.

 

I want to write an ode to the queer

women who have shaped me, who

created their own haven:

 

Hands black with Earth,

they patiently brought seeds to bloom,

their very own garden of Eden.

 

The bright colors of the petals they

grew were just as plentiful as

the rainbow pins tucked upon their overalls.

 

“You just have to be patient,”

Nancy says, as she tucks a new

seed beneath the folds of the earth.

 

“It’ll be okay, you know.”

Glancing from her perch in the soil

she smiles before continuing, “Vickie

 

and I have been through so much:

Look! Look at what we’ve created.”

I want to write an ode to the queer

 

women who have shaped me. Who

made their own garden and told

me: “Gays make the best gardens.”

I want to write an ode to the queer

women who have shaped me and

said: “You know that guy who

 

walks his dogs all over town? What’s his

name again, Nancy? Tom? Jake? Total

fag. You should talk to him, honey.”

 

I want to write an ode to the queer women

who have shaped me. Who, in between drags of

their Marlboro Ultra Lights tell me, consolingly,

 

“I was broken up with once, too. You know

her. Susan? Yeah. Squat? Pinched nose?

Yeah she was real cunty. Big bush, too!

 

Almost as big as this guy.” She points to

a buddleya, or butterfly bush, “but you

know that was the 70’s.” She lights

 

another cigarette as if she didn’t just

tell her grandson something entirely

inappropriate. And so as I take a drag

 

from my own cigarette, I look around and notice

the stark contrast between the purple petals

and orange wings of the butterflies surrounding

 

the bush. I want to write an ode to the

queer women who have shaped me, who

tell me I’m okay. Who tell me

 

“Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean

you can’t have everything. And, hey,

at least you have us.”

 

Kenneth Nolan III, who was the Poetry Editor for this issue, is a junior from Marietta, Pennsylvania. Majoring in Creative Writing, his hobbies include reading, writing, painting, and listening to Kate Bush while looking solemnly outside his window.