(for those departed and surviving in Orlando and everywhere)
I am struggling now to comprehend how I still have one
after all the opportunities I’ve had to die with my hands
at the wheel after too many drinks in bars while I waited
to become my uncloseted self. And now I have nothing to do but pulse
with crackling rage as I raise an empty glass,
mourning the fact that you, Orlando, lost so many hearts
and lips and hands, all wanting to give something to the other hearts
beating like hell on the dance floor before the clock strikes one.
You. Alive. You. Raising your drinks to the glassy
Air. You. Raising your brown Orlando hands
to the heavens in the heat of your last dance at Pulse.
And, of course, you don’t know this. Don’t know that death is waiting
around the corner like a drunk in a car. You are just waiting
for last call, for your early morning heart
to drum faster, to keep perfect time with its perfect pulse
as it moves closer to each slick body on the electric floor, to the one
you will leave this world with tonight, with your hands
pressing each other’s calloused palms in prayer, your glassy
eyes looking forward to the next time you raise your lover like a glass,
clutch them in the grace of everything that the body waits
to release when it releases the tenuous grip of hands
in the act. And doesn’t your Orlando always resemble the heart–
resilient, restless, eager to demonstrate how it is one
with the divine, how it yearns to live from within its pulse?
And now I am pondering the woman who sat next to me pulsing
on my porch steps before we kissed then shuffled our crazy hearts
back into the deck to hide in the shadows of the one
true thing I know that I have been waiting
to discover with another. And now all the pulverized bar glasses
resemble diamonds on the dance floor, and a pair of smeared sunglasses
sleeps in the massacre’s aftermath, inside and outside of Pulse.
Orlando, the world will wake Sunday morning with news of your murdered hearts,
and in the fifth stanza I’ve dropped a line in shock. My hands
go cold with grief. I don’t know if I can spare the time to wait
for the one who could be the one while everyone in Orlando is one
dance step away from their hearts shattering like blown glass
floats that hands once held precious, every ounce of sweat and blood, waiting
for love to pulse. Yes, pulse. And still, I have one.
Sandra Yannone’s poetry and book reviews have appeared nationally in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Women’s Review of Books, Calyx: A Journal, Lambda Book Report, and Weave, among others. She currently is a Member of the Faculty and directs the Writing Center at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.