My thoughts are caged in, trapped.
Every day they look out, rattling
the bars, trying to squeeze through.
They drive me crazy.
But, a skilled and careful jailer,
I tossed the key a long time ago.

My mother read my journal
when I was seventeen.
Then she took her pen to it:
We’ve never had a QUEER
in the family before! Circling
and underlining things.
You’re SICK! Drawing arrows, pointing.
You need a psychiatrist!!

I burned it. Every single page
and the cover, too. As if the fire
could incinerate her hatred.
Or mine.

For years, I didn’t write again. And if I did,
it was followed immediately
by such blazing. As if the fire
could reduce her words
to ash.

©Barb Reynolds
Published in Stonewall’s Legacy Anthology, June 2019

This poem may not be reproduced without the author's permission.