Dear Eileen

Dear Eileen,

I’m thinking about you and Muriel Rukeyser. You wrote about Muriel and I’m writing about both of you. I tell my students, “Poetry can change your life!” and I believe it.

I like the watch you are wearing in your picture. And the fact that you look like yourself. In life.

One of my first most major important publications was when you and Liz included me in The New Fuck You: Adventurers in Lesbian Reading. Bob Gluck said I should send my poems. Bob Gluck is one of the most generous people I’ve ever met.

Since then I’ve seen you a few times, here and there, at readings. You always remember me and say, “Hello!” greeting me like a pal. This means so much to me. I feel young and school girlish when I see you. I can’t believe that you recognize me. How is this possible?

(It’s also “the working class thing,” shorthand for all the ways that growing up working class made me feel invisible and unimportant. So I don’t ever assume that people will remember me.)

And then there’s the fact of my lesbian failure. I live with a man now and we have a son. All of us different: black, white, biracial. I never expected to have a child. A son is a miracle. A real live person. Last night he came to my door while I working, poked his 3-yr-old head in, and crowed like a rooster. Every few minutes, he would run back to my door, open it, and crow again, but each time he would crow a little quieter. The ritual and repetition. He says, “Mommy cracks me up.”

Eileen Myles does not judge me. She looks like herself. Low-slung Levi’s on her hips. She knows how to wear a shirt, that Eileen Myself. She cracks me up.

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