The Brillantina Project

Our Lady of Love Lost

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In memoriam, Elle Janet Plato, 1966-2016

i.

It’s all mixed up.
Loving, laughing;
flirting, fighting;
dancing, drinking,

dying. It was
summer. She said
she needed more
Scotch. Her hand on

mine as we moved
across the floor,
sleeves tangled, blue
& white, limbs twined

& interlocked.
It might have been
nothing. It might
have been something.

She growled at me.
That was fighting.
That was foreplay.
That was a rough

draft for loving
off the grid;
for a life left
unscripted, her

beautiful life
a narrative
poem truncated,
capped off with a

sudden haiku;
for her, now gone
forever, still
tangled up

in a maybe
that aches inside,
still so confused,
and a bit lost.

ii.

The shimmer of heat waves,
a mirage, a bending
of light and hope that makes

something seem near when it
isn’t, when it is far
away. Cascades of light

like a waterfall, drops
becoming curves and lines,
becoming sparks and pricks.

The fluted melody
lyrical as longing;
voices blend and balance

at the edge of hearing.
Imagined pebbles plop
in imagined waters

sweet as amusement, yet
there is no sound, no joke,
no water, no liquid

love paused and suspended
in midair like ripe fruit
waiting for a open

mouth to find it. There is
beauty here, but is it
what I see, what you see?

iii.

Bodies we know, bodies we don’t.
So many bodies. 50 years
past: hemophiliac John Doe,
bled out near a gay bar somewhere.
40: a frosh one dorm over
whose father took him home midterm,
to rape him over and over,
yelling, “So, this is what you like.
How about now? Still liking it?”
35: when the brain cancer
came back the last time, his parents
agreed to take care of him if
he never again talked with us,
his friends. 30: Wild and campy,
Tom taught naughty British show tunes
to our small town, barely two years
before he died of AIDS. Our first.
25: K., “lost at sea,” but
none of us at home believed it.
Really, the only lesbian
on a Navy ship? The rumor
was that she was tossed overboard
because she wouldn’t sleep with them.
Now, now. Another 50 more.
So many. So many. And now
she’s gone, too. And I’m not. With no
last note, no goodbye, no see you
later. Just … gone. Another love
lost. Another. And another.

iv.

Wind whistles past the fence,
past the yellow police
crime scene tape, and carries
dust away, carving stoic lines
in flexible faces.
Where did the laughter go?
Did it fall in its flight,
a stone grown too heavy
to be carried, marking
the place of a body?
Did it fall like bullets
in the nightclub, the ones
that didn’t hit someone?
Did it blast and then burst,
shattering against wall?
Explode and then dissolve
like a smoke bomb? Did it
float away like feathers
and sequins and mirrors? Where?
Where did the laughter go?

v.

Neon lights pulse, pound,
syncing dancers together.
They pause. Full stop. End


Patricia F. Anderson

Patricia F. Anderson is a proud second alto in the Out Loud Chorus, Ann Arbor’s fantastic LGBTQA singing group. Patricia’s poetry blog, Rosefire Rising, is home to her NaPoWriMo creations (& other creative efforts). Her manuscript, “Unmentionables,” is currently seeking a publisher, having achieved an honorable mention in two separate poetry contests.
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