In Exam Room 262
after Li-Young Lee
The trans Wiccan spiritual advisor,
who solicits sex displaying estrogen breasts
in a tight tank top, safety-pinned together;
who tosses her diva-length raspberry hair
to frame her face; who awaits a court case
win to move to L.A. and be a porn queen― she is not me.
The woman whose ex stalks her, breaking
her doors and windows,
jumping from a dumpster to beat her face;
who tries and fails to disguise her bruises
with ochre foundation; who fears for her life,
but won’t go to a shelter;
and the young woman named for a virtue,
who was trafficked out of Mali
from genocide in her country; who’s glad
the FBI now considers her a victim;
who writes her story on a library’s computer,
for lack of her own― they are not me.
The man who isn’t eating any more,
shrinking since he and his sister split
in anger, looking like a death camp
survivor; who assures me that God
doesn’t see self-starvation as a sin― he isn’t me.
Not even the student, pale and thin as smoke,
who took two jobs to support his partner, a PhD
unable to work; and buys him meth, vodka,
and cocaine; saying, Maybe we’ll marry and
he can get his green card; he wasn’t HIV
when we met— this young man, who’d give
anything for love— not even he is me,
but I hear his and all the other’s voices
at dawn, rousing me from dreams
of a healed world’s awakening.
Laura Secord has been an offset printer, union organizer, health care activist, teacher, and a sex-educator. For thirty years, she combined the life of a writer and performer with a career as a Nurse Practitioner in HIV care. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College. A Pushcart nominee, her poems have appeared in the Birmingham Weekly, Arts and Understanding, The Southern Women’s Review, PoemMemoirStory, Passager, Indolent Books and Burning House Press. She is the co-founder of Birmingham’s Sister City Spoken Word Collective.