Julie Marie Wade
Or the first time, smoking, hairs raised
all over your body. A second drag to similar effect.
Now a dark man lingers in the alley
of the dream, dressed in your father's bathrobe.
1987 is a bad year to ask questions.
Cut to: You're not sure if the hole in your body
is an outlet or an inlet. When a man plugs into you,
[Which is not to say anything specific about sexual politics.
Which is not to imply any inherent distrust of the opposite sex.]
Diet or Regular?
Your mother prefers large women for friends.
Lessens the competition.
1992 is a very bad year to ask questions.
Soon after, your dead grandmother's ring disappears.
A cousin suspects you. After all,
yours was the prettiest stone.
In the Straits of Juan de Fuca, you shower for an audience
& feel your flesh dissolve.
Get Smart is the only good show on television.
[Which is not to say anything specific about Nostalgia.
Which is not to imply any inherent distrust of Progress.]
Rob Hildebrant at the beach—it is almost
beautiful. You eat licorice & fortune cookies
to excess; he takes you for a ride in his skiff.
Whatever happened to the fish-tail braid?
When did it fall out of fashion?
For the rest of your life then, you're making sense of, just trying to make sense of...
By 1994, you have run out of questions.
You write stories in the Omniscient Third.
Lamarck's theory: Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics.
Can they pass it onto you? Will you "catch" it?
Pauline Gates propositions you, leans on your locker,
writes love notes.
1997: brief resurgence of questions & a survey of horror films.
"Camp" enters your vocabulary with a vengeance.
Meanwhile, your other grandmother
falls in love with Alex Trebek.
In time, you forgive her.
In the new millennium, life turns
abysmal: 4 months in London, & still you couldn't get laid.
Your flatmate believes you have a crush on her.
You wish you had a crush on Someone.
Graduation: a long walk in hot sun. A vow:
No more nylon socks. Even on special occasions.
You accuse your mother
to love you
[Which is not to say you didn't want her to.
Which is not to say you did.]
Mistaken for a Christian for the
A Necessary Hair Cut
In the kitchen, admiring: Anna suggests you look like a lesbian.
What does a lesbian look like again?
2002: To Hell with Questions
You sleep with your friend & refuse to wake up.
Cut to: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
for "Word, Image, Art."
Long overdue, you consider
the implications of
the Side Note:
[as a child, you used to play
maracas. you used to shake
a tambourine. how, now—
fear of noises?]
"I want the opposite of Cheers.
A place where no one knows my name."
That can be arranged.
But—before the lights come up—
Are there any questions?
Julie Marie Wade is the author of two collections of lyric nonfiction, Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures (Colgate University Press, 2010) and Small Fires (Sarabande Books, 2011), and two collections of poetry, Without (Finishing Line Press, 2010) and Postage Due (White Pine Press, 2013). Most recently, she has received an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir. Wade lives with her partner, Angie Griffin, and their two cats in the Bluegrass State, where she is a doctoral student and graduate teaching fellow in the Humanities program at the University of Louisville.
"My grandma always said the front porch was the best place to tell stories. When she was growing up in the 1920s, the child of Swedish immigrant parents in a Canadian mining town, word spread around that on summer nights after supper, June Swanson sat out and told stories. Her own eight brothers and sisters and their friends and their friends' friends would gather on the Swanson porch to listen as my grandmother unraveled her imaginative yarns. But where I grew up, in the 1980s, in a suburb of Seattle overlooking Puget Sound, no one had porches or so much as a stoop to sit on. We had uniform, brick houses with flower pots crowding the front walks, which invariably led all the way up to the door. "Sitting out" wasn't what people did there; we sat in, watching the sailboats from our living room view. This is not to say that front porches make storytellers or that picture windows make poets, but I sometimes think of the fiction I'd write if I had passed more of my time on porches."