How To Stay Gay in Quarantine

Every walk a lesson
in desire. Others like you
move between houses with
better gardens.

You catch sight of them,
in fence slats and the oracle
of fallen branches. You all
peregrinate in your best
feathers and stippled memories.

Ramble with a queer friend
to the pointless bridge, where pelicans
once astonished you. Laugh yell
sweat over your profiles. Small
town quarks in parallel dances.

Try a social-distance date where,
instead of kissing, you analyze
a telenovela. If he also loves
the honeyed pauses
of Paulina de la Mora,

then
you’d better not by the bleachers.

Zoom with friends who are
forgetting how to be queer. Un-
washed, buffered, breaking. Kiss
goodnight
but stay online
to hear the little snores.

Like the monk Alcuin, write
to ask for your book back, then
accidentally
declare your love to every ex,
in the postscript.

Seethe over the flaws
of Drag Race. Hear the echo
of ancestors whose old skirts
trailed across unsanitary lanes.

You are also a molly. Also
Princess Seraphina, put on trial
in 1732. Your neighbor, the
washerwoman, defends you
for stealing back your shoes.

I see you at Cabela’s, looking confused.
I see you on grid roads. In bookstores,
touching the pages. Remembering
patios in Montréal
where our worlds tilted like the apartment floor.

Live-stream old relationships to your head.
The guy who said don’t touch my feet.
The pilot you waltzed with. The pen pal
from Vigo you met, years later, floating
in the Teleférico above the cruising park.

I kept it, he said, referring to the sun
you’d mailed him, when you were both
fifteen, until all the rays broke off.

Jes Battis (he/they) teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Regina. Jes has published poetry in The Capilano Review, CV2, The Maynard, and Poetry Is Dead.

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