(Published in Island Tides, Volume 28, Number 13, June 30 – July 13, 2016 and The Gulf Islands Driftwood, June 22, 2016)
I wrote this poem “the day after the day after” the recent mass shooting at the LBGTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, after attending a small “queer circle” on Sunday, not aware that a vigil was being planned. I read this at the vigil on Wednesday evening, lovingly organized by our local queer organization, a deeply moving event to bring our communities together to mourn together.
13 June 2016
Now I see. The light as well as the dark.
Pulse. The impulse to come together to mourn and celebrate.
Latin night at Pulse, the Gay nightclub that now will be remembered.
The tragedy—another mass killing—this, the largest counted dead.
A man firing guns onto the dance floor. People celebrating during
Gay Pride month. Another senseless, heinous, hateful act.
When you phoned and offered a gathering of a queer circle
I instantly knew I’d come.
And now I realize the power of the circle even more than before.
As we passed the sacred stone around in a heart circle,
we spoke and we listened and the circle, as it does its magic,
connected us to one another.
This is the power of our presence. This is how we can act in
our efforts to essentially try to make meaning out of this event,
the extinguishing of lives with so much living to look forward to.
Now I see, again and again, the principles of surrender, letting go,
releasing, not personalizing, of bringing who we are together,
to share the tragedies and highs, but especially the lows,
the collective terrors, the mourning.
It’s like coming out all over again. Not keeping it inside but
coming to understand better and being ourselves,
in our complexities and as yet invalidated desires.
We come out, come to ourselves, come together and each time,
each moment, our reach becomes wider and our breaths deepen,
we trust ourselves and one another and the world brightens
despite all the darkness and pain, like a salve for our sorrows,
our fears, our anger.
We queers and others transform hatred and bigotry and violence into
heart opening and knowing we’re in this together.