The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: BABE by Dorothy Chan

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from BABE by Dorothy Chan, released by Diode Editions in 2021. 

When I Tell Him About the First Girl Who Loved Me,

All he says is “Wow,” like that’s the only response

	when the woman you could love might have ended up
	with another woman in another timeline, and I picture

me and L, my first girl, suspended in a glass box filled
with water, like subjects in a Ren Hang photograph

	shot on a hotel bed in lime green light, and the glass
	never shatters until the end of time—Hello, Holy Grail

of a femme making love to another woman, the metaphor
of the unreachable thing that men can never have,

	and cue the fantasies, but this is real. He asks me about
	L—L as in lips, or how he says I have the most beautiful

mouth in the world—L as in Let’s call this practice,
she used to say each time we kissed and went down,

	and I’d play in denial—L as in Lauren, her name—my Ralph
	Lauren blouse body on top of her flannel, clothes unbuttoning

as I whispered sweet nothings in Cantonese to her—L
as in love, as in real time, he calls what we have Whatever

	this is, and boy, I’ll make up my mind someday, and I wonder
	if I did love her, remembering us holding hands as she walked

me home, saying “We could do this every day, you know.”
I remember those nights, me at 20, headed home after

	sunset, already knowing the world could be all mine. I know
	I want him. But I don’t tell him. I worry we’ll never reach

that level of intimacy, of him doing my makeup after sex.
I wonder about me and him in that glass box in lime green

	light—all ours—recorded. I wonder if I’ll ever let him go

Photo courtesy of Bill Hoepner, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Dorothy Chan (she/they) is the author of most recently, BABE (Diode Editions, 2021), Revenge of the Asian Woman (Diode Editions, 2019), and Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018). They were a 2020 and 2014 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship finalist, a 2020 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry, and a 2019 recipient of the Philip Freund Prize in Creative Writing from Cornell University. Their work has appeared in POETRYThe American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere. Chan is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Editor Emeritus of Hobart, Book Reviews Co-Editor of Pleiades, and Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Honey Literary Inc., a 501(c)(3) literary arts organization.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

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