I am jealous of the moon
I long for her clean serenity
cool and blue-white
her daily self erasure
If I could just hang in the sky
pulling the tides
let the boiling clouds race
expand and contract with the turning
of slow celestial time
passing in dark and light
I would not worry
about the men
toiling for nothing
back to back with absurdity
The wall of the sun
would not reach me as I
full would not see
the multiplying cells
shifting softly below
But I am not alone
for I have heard the basketball slapping the asphalt
and all of the trucks roaring as one
The sun rises
and rouses the earth
Quiet I rise in the dark
and creak down the stairs
to switch on the plastic radio.
drift in the wind and the porch light.
Stomach churning bites of burnt toast.
Her: skin like summer sun toast
smoothing on baby oil to get dark.
Me: under the snapping umbrella hiding from the light.
She paused on the sun-bleached stairs
face a mosaic of cloud shadows
trying to find Elvis on the radio.
Driving cross country we laughed on the CB radio
and stopped at a sepia diner for raisin toast.
The men’s voices were smoky shadows.
We whispered in the motel dark
the metronome of a creaking mattress upstairs
floral curtains choking yellow light.
On the edge of the striated abyss my head floated light
harmonica trickling from the car radio.
Tourists lumbered up the dusty canyon stairs
a big man wheezed “I’m toast.”
We stayed until the sky hung dark
drove out slowly chasing headlight shadows.
I have lived in shadows.
We drove through the city light.
Warning her not to walk alone in the dark
she tuned me out a fuzzy radio.
We drank drugstore champagne in toast
and started awake on monument stairs.
Home she creeps down the stairs
and dances with shadows
in taverns to toast
stumbling home in the pale light.
I’m listening to news on the radio
wishing the world were not so dark.
Inviting her in for eggs and toast we twine together on the stairs.
Recalling the desert dark and sagebrush shadows
I toss her a beam of light but it scrambles, static on the radio.
I am a volcano
I am a cactus flower
Wind rushes silver fast
down the tracks
through the window
In the backseat
nothing is real
orange light and
that baseline I feel
in my stomach
sighing on my skin
her hands tighten on the wheel
The hungry days
come faster now
I’ve always tried to outrun my mental illness. What I couldn’t outrun I buried. Inevitably, though, my anxiety and depression would catch up and bubble up, leaving me reeling. I didn’t seek treatment for my mental illness until my mid-twenties. Until then I just hurt and wondered. Why I am exhausted all the time but unable to sleep? Why is my body so sore? Why I am constantly terrified? Why can’t I breathe? Does everyone feel this way? When I finally found a good, queer-positive therapist things began to fall into place. My feelings are valid. I am valid. I don’t need to be embarrassed. I discovered for the first time in a long time that I could like myself, maybe even love myself.
Growing up queer and deeply closeted hurt me. Instead of railing against a heteronormative world that erased or trivialized queer folx, I sought to obliterate myself. My poetry reflects these experiences of erasure, fear, and self-loathing. It also reflects experiences of love, desire, and strength. The written word was my escape and comfort. It felt better, slipping into another world of my own creation. My words gave me the agency and power to shape my queerness and mental illness into something beautiful.
I am so grateful for MITA and other organizations dedicated to amplifying the voices of women and marginalized folx and destigmatizing conversations around mental health. The mental healthcare system is far from perfect but I firmly believe that openness, honesty, and community can help.
KD Fisher is a New England-based educator and queer author of narratives and poetry exploring the intersections of mental health and identity. An avid reader and writer of romance, KD is dedicated to writing comforting happily ever afters for and about queer folx. She holds a degree in International Studies from Loyola University Chicago and a Master of Arts in Teaching from The University of Pittsburgh. When KD isn’t writing she can usually be found running with her overly enthusiastic dog, mooning over other people’s gardens, or being really bad at yoga. You can reach KD at her website (https://kdfisher.squarespace.com) or follow her on Twitter at @kdfisher_author