Double Rainbow

Love is the feeling that autumn leaves
are swirling through your bloodstream.
Your heart waves in your chest
like a rainbow tree
or a rainbow flag
in the wind.

The first girl I wanted to kiss
was in second grade.
I stood behind the swing set
to watch her without being seen.
Her nose had the curve
of a gust of wind.
Her freckles spread all the way
into her eyes.
She was a princess.

I didn’t have
all the labels I needed
so when I told mom
how I felt,
the words came out
like torn up confetti.
The wrinkles in her forehead doubled over. She used the word
“weird”, then “socially inappropriate”;
I had already started social skills training.
I had already begun to be the weird girl.

When she said
not to let the other kids know I felt that way
was when I knew it was dirty,
so dirty it had to be kept secret.

After that, when the feeling would
start to fill up my stomach the way
tears fill up your eyes, I would
pinch my arm, hard,
to get this dangerous thing to go away.

It was six years
before I claimed the word “lesbian”.
The word is powerful like a scream:
when I say it, people back away.
You don’t need labels, they say,
but I do. I need words
to stand on. Besides, I did have labels before,
but I wear this new one
more like a golden locket
and less like a scarlet A.


7 thoughts on “Double Rainbow

  1. the first thing is becoming comfortable with ourselves…comfortable enough that we dont care what those around us think…its sad how we demonize people for being themselves…i like how you use the rainbow in the opening…and the freckles spread all the way into her eyes…cool descriptions….i like the rather straight forward structure of this as well…good to see you abby…its been a while.

  2. Powerful, honest writing here–“I need words to stand on.” Also excellent detail and metaphor. I especially liked the words coming out like torn-up confetti. Great work!

  3. ugh, I can’t stand when parents act like there’s something wrong with their kid if he/she is gay… thankfully, I have an open-minded mom, so coming out wasn’t hard (even though I made it harder for myself.) Hope the day comes when all people realize sexuality is just as much of a choice as ethnicity… I really liked how you said you needed labels – words to stand on… while the “label” thing can usually be a negative, you put a very positive outlook on it… well done.

  4. i like how you start this with the double rainbow and the honesty of emotions… and it’s sad how we’re labeled without even naming the labels sometimes… i too like the description of how her freckles spread and cool use of color there in the close

  5. Wow, all the anxiety, comes across in this superb poem.

    My favourite lines: the words came out like torn-up confetti. That describes exactly how I was on pain-killing drugs. I am bi-lingual, but in the hospital the French came out fractured, interspersed with English nonsense.

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