When I think about the past two years, and trying to put some sort of something together to explain how it’s been, I think in photographs. That one where he’s picking raspberries with his bare hands, crouched in his brown tee shirt, raspberry juice running down his wrists, pink staining his tongue. The one where he and his dog are surveying the moonscape of northern Yukon right before we turned past the “Welcome to Alaska!” sign. The one he called “doing important boy work” where he was sitting in a jock strap and nothing else on the porch at the ranch writing in his leather boy journal, writing reflections on tasks for me or writing about feelings of service and submission or writing a book report, I don’t know what the task was, but I’m sure it was important. The one with his dimples in that orange-red light that I looked at over and over before I really knew him.
I’d put together a collage post, an essay in photographs, but that doesn’t feel good enough, because who knows what you’d see. Maybe you’d see what I see, all the sweet boy tasks and dimpled smiles and creating art, but you wouldn’t see so many of the other things: the quiet contemplation, the complexities, the intensity of inner landscape, the artistry, the precision, the majesty.
It’s not easy, this intimate loving. I don’t know how it could ever be easy. It’s a practice of stripping away blocks, stripping away defenses, reminding myself over and over to let in, take in, open up, drop that protective layer. What a horrible thing to do, and how beautiful. What else is there, really, than to let someone see who I am as true as I possibly can.
This is my best truth, I whisper to him over and over, with each breath, while I sleep, while my lips touch his fingertips, while my key fits his lock. Right now, I am ruined. Right now, I am running. Right now, I am ruminating. Right now, I am rubber bouncing away. Right now, I am rumbling. Right now, I am rushed. Right now, I am a ruby shining. Right now, I am rusted through and I fear one touch will crumble everything. Right now, I just need you to hold me, take your hand and put it there, hold me from inside.
I have loved enough to know not to make grand declarations while I fall. I know I have said the same things, again and again. Falling always feels like that: brand new, awakened, like nothing else ever before. And it’s true. This time, it’s green green in all her shades, babygreen and lime and chartreuse, fresh mown grass, pine and spruce, fern and jungle, tea and olive, so many options. Let’s spend the life of our relationship cataloguing all of the hues and saturations, all of the chroma and light, every kind of value there may be. Let’s memorize the hex and RGB codes and recite them in each other’s ears when we need to remember the secret language in which we speak. This green that is growth and renewal, from budding seed to moss covering the old growth. Every stage, none more valuable than the other. None needing to be hidden. No forest does their mourning in silence, hidden away in holes or caves. Trees fall out in the open, unapologetic. This is my direction. I will now lay down to rest. We heard that great snap on the outer point trail and both looked to the canopy: which one would it be? The clear sound of tree death echoed, but it took a moment before falling. Like a ball bouncing tall tall tall and then less and less until the sound waterfalls. The tree was a waterfall as it descended, mortal, unrooted.
This is what happens. Unrooted I descend, mortal, and no one to be worshipped. And yet he does it anyway. So devoted, he whispers, and I whisper it right back. My noblesse oblige, my responsibilities, the placement in his life I continue to earn daily as I am to be and act from my best self. The deepest of forest greens. Living with him seems small compared to owning him.
I don’t know why I crave the power I do, nor does he know why he craves the submission he does. We puzzle, we theorize, we study, we muse. And we give to each other in these ways that we have always craved. Something in me didn’t know what I wanted was to own, to master. The verb, the job title—not the honorific, not yet (maybe that will come later). But as I study this path, I realize I’ve always been on it. Always been trying to encourage something more, and making do with my own limitations.
I’ve been making offerings my whole life, holding up gifts, looking at paths and asking if they wanted to walk it with me. This is the boy who has taken my hand and said yes. This is the boy who showed me paths he’s discovered, too, but had not yet walked, knowing the essentiality of having another with him. This is the boy who has been offering, over and over, to take more if they wanted it. I want more. I want the edge. I seek the razor on which we can both balance. I seek the calling to be my own best self. I seek one who will stay at my feet not because it serves him, but because it serves me. That is a fine line of difference, but makes everything change.
Right now, I am shining in the oldest forest, crackling descent to the earth, digging up rubies. Doesn’t green shine brighter when there’s red around? Isn’t my heart just oh so ready to pour this blood into the earth? Isn’t there so much more to love than heartbreak? Isn’t there so much possibility, when puzzle pieces find each other? Aren’t we so ready, so prepared and ready, to live our way to the answers, live our way to the creations of our quiet, deepest callings?
I don’t know what happens next. But I know this is the beginning of year three, and I’m listening. I choose.
Maria See put the original call out for the Femmethology literally years ago, and ever since I first saw it I knew I wanted to contribute something to this unique anthology on femme identity. But what? I didn’t feel like I could necessarily speak from a place of authority on What Femme Is, there are hundreds – thousands! – of versions of femme, and no matter what I know about femme or how many femmes I’ve interacted with, I am an observer, a witness of femme, I don’t feel like I create it myself.
So what would I write?
I wrote a few pieces, brainstormed, but nothing I really loved. Nothing really got to the heart of what I was trying to say, which was … what? I wasn’t sure.
But it hit me on the very last day the editors were accepting submissions, and I sat down and wrote this Love Letter in one long sentence, and spent the rest of the day editing and polishing. I’m not going to reproduce the text here (you’ll have to buy the book for that) but I will present you, here, with a recording of me reading the love letter that appears in Visible: A Femmethology Volume Two.
Hope you enjoy it.
Thanks very much to Audacia Ray for recording and producing this mp3!
In case you missed it, see more information about the Femmethology here.
I’m honored to kick off the April Femmethology blog tour! There are four important things in this post, it’s kind of a long one – here’s the breakdown so you don’t miss anything.
- Information about Visible: A Femmethology, a two-volume set of books which is out now!
- A giveaway! Comment to win a copy of the Femmethology!
- Information about the Femmethology release party in New York City, Wednesday April 29th
- Continue on the April Femmethology blog tour by visiting these other great sites. Visit Ellie Lumpesse tomorrow!
And coming up shortly, I’ll be posting an mp3 of me reading my essay, Love Letter, which is included in the Femmethology Volume Two.
Femme–an identity that has caused controversy, celebration and ridicule–is now the topic of a two-volume set from Homofactus Press and editor Jennifer Clare Burke titled Visible: A Femmethology. Femmethology calls the LGBTQI community on its own prejudice and celebrates the diversity of individual femmes. Award-winning authors, spoken-word artists, and totally new voices come together to challenge conventional ideas of how disability, class, nationality, race, aesthetics, sexual orientation, gender identity and body type intersect with each contributor’s concrete notion of femmedom.
Comment on this post with one fabulous thing that you love about femmes and I’ll pick one random winner.
What’ll you win? A copy of Visible: A Femmethology Volume Two, which includes my piece, Love Letter. AND in addition, EITHER a copy of Volume 1 OR any other erotica book my writing is in – such as: Best Lesbian Erotica 2006, 2007, or 2009. Look about halfway down on my “Shop” page or in the sidebar (—->) for the complete list.
The books will be sent to me and I’ll autograph them for you, then send them on.
Winner will be chosen at random tomorrow morning, so you have today to enter by leaving a comment.
Come join us at the book release party in NYC!
Visible: A Femmethology
New York City Release!
April 29th, 7pm
Bluestockings, 172 Allen St. in the Lower East Side
Featuring contributors: Ryn Hodes, Sinclair Sexsmith, Sassafras Lowrey, Cameron Whitley, Leslie Freeman, J.C. Yu, Hadassah Hill, & Miel Rose
Visible: A Femmethology is a two-volume anthology edited by Jennifer Clare Burke and published by Homofactus Press of personal essays from over fifty contributors who explore what it means to be a queer femme. Award winning authors, spoken-word artists, and totally new voices come together to challenge conventional ideas of how disability, class, nationality, race, aesthetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, and body type intersect with each contributor’s concrete notion of femmedom.
Not in New York City? Check the Femmethology events page to see if there’s a release party in your area. They’ll be in Vermont, Vancouver BC, Atlanta, & more!
Follow the rest of the Femmethology April blog tour with these great sites:
4/1. Sugarbutch Chronicles
4/2. Ellie Lumpesse
4/4. CyDy Blog
4/6. Catalina Loves
4/7. cross-post: The Femme’s Guide and Femme Fagette
4/8. Daphne Gottlieb
4/9. Bilerico Project
4/10. Screaming Lemur: Femme-inism and Other Things
4/13. The Femme Hinterland
4/14. Bochinche Bilingüe: Borderlands Writing and The Vagina Adventures
4/15. Dorothy Surrenders
4/16. Miss Avarice Speaks Her Mind
4/17. The Femme Show
4/19. Sexuality Happens
4/20. Queer Fat Femme
4/21. Sublimefemme Unbound
4/22. Tina-cious.com and Jess I Am (butch-femme couple day!)
4/24. The Lesbian Lifestyle
4/25. Femme Fluff
4/26. Weldable Cookies
4/27. The Verbosery
4/28. A Consuming Desire and Creative Xicana