I didn’t really learn what bisexual was
until college, part Intro to Women’s Studies
textbooks, part kissing girls with boyfriends.
The books spit out words like fluid
& continuum, & the girls were the kind
who wavered between me & their boyfriends,
between my bedroom & the homecoming court,
wanting so badly to be queen.
I crowned every single one.
Those girls never claimed it
but I did, told my friends I was bi
knowing I wasn’t,
just wanting some shot at normalcy,
though I knew it was a half-court shot
at the buzzer, one that could only
end with a groan from the crowd
when the ball ended up nowhere near the basket.
I went out with boys sometimes,
feminist boys, boys who loved
books, boys who could cook, to make sure
I wouldn’t learn to like them.
I never more than made out with a few of them,
awkward movie theater & backseat events
always ending in thank yous,
brisk walks up to my bedroom,
& never texting them back.
After I moved out of my parents’ house
I wrote my dad a letter
as a twenty-first birthday gift to myself,
not saying bisexual but gay,
a more correct word then.
I left it on his desk but felt obligated
to call him in the dark twist of my panic,
to warn him what he’d come home to.
When he answered, I said it, gay
& he said Jesus, said Merry Christmas, asked me
why it couldn’t wait, why I needed
to tell him right then, while he was driving home
from work in a snowstorm, but all I could do
was listen to him breathe into the phone
relieved I had a father who answered when I called.
I let our silence sit there, my refusal,
for once, to apologize.