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Monday Night Choir Boi

by Jae Casella



We call ourselves The Lavender Choir.

We practice every Monday night.

Charlie ushers us into the sanctuary.


The door lock clicks like the safety on a gun,

leaving the slur-slingers on the other side.

My old knees are scratchy from a lifetime


of kneeling in protest and false prayer. They bend me

into my seat in the alto section.

I tell Micah about the first gay men's choir.


He saw a picture of a giant quilt

with the names of dead guys.

Harvey Milk is a hero


in his history book, he says.

I get it. They don't know my whole life. Eyes crinkled

from searching for someone I could have been.


The etched smiles around my mouth

for every girl I loved from across the dance floor.

The curve of my spine from hiding


sagging breasts, slow walking

shuffling feet

sore from marching for them.


Voices soft as the fuzz on their faces

mix with tremors from the baritone bois.

Some squeaks and cracking throats reach


for bass notes and my own voice

strains to meet somewhere in the middle.

Some slick back bangs over short fades,


swell their chests out of their bindings

with every breath in, take and give

no fucks, puff their stubbled cheeks


They are brave and I am proud.


And maybe a little envious

of the x on their id's,

of mothers who saw them,


fathers who grew them, bonds

with friends who knew.

I had none because we hid


in the safety of our girlish names.

We hid to not be known as queer­ -

which in my days meant


freak.


Exhausted, I claw at my female skin

worn thin over male bones,

digging to sing my song aloud.


I am old now.


I arch my grief open

to the child who had to sing in the quiet

of their room, who ached


to stand shoulder to shoulder

with these younger versions

of me.


***

Black and white photo of the author, Jae Casella.
Jae Casella

Jae Casella (they/them/Jae) is an emerging queer poet. They are living their semi-retired life on the coast of Maine. When they are not editing their poems, they enjoy date nights with their spouse, searching for sea glass, and treasure hunting with their metal detector. Obsessed with nature photography, their favorite place to be is outside.

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