This selection, chosen by guest editor JJ Rowan, is from Erasures of My Coming Out (Letter) by Mary Warren Foulk, released by The Poetry Box in 2022.
November 2002 Dear Mom, There’s something I need to share with you, that I’ve been keeping from you. I can’t keep it in anymore. I am burdened by secrecy and the stress is weighing on me. I am sorry to be doing this by mail. For me, a letter is the most effective, the easiest and perhaps most considerate way to convey what I am thinking and feeling. I want you to know that I am with Alyson. She is not just my roommate, but also my partner and we have a wonderful, beautiful relationship and life together in New York. I’ve waited until now to tell you for a number of reasons—please trust and try to understand them. I needed the time and space for my sake, to feel comfortable with and committed to me, my identity, my choices and needs, to feel comfortable with and committed to my relationship with Alyson. I know this is hard, it’s not the “norm,” especially for our family and family expectations. We’re not the most liberal of families. And it’s weird for me. It’s difficult to be gay—society makes it so. I don’t even necessarily identify as such. I feel as if I met this great person and I want to be with this great person. I know this will take some time to adjust to, to accept, for all involved. I was scared, scared of rejection, of more loss, disappointment, judgment. I know this is not what you would necessarily want or hope for me. I love and adore Alyson, she is phenomenal, incredibly special, and vital to me. I am not validating or respecting her or me, our choices, by being silent, hidden. I can’t and don’t want to deny us anymore. I want you to know me, fully. I don’t want you to find out through some other means or after the fact. Please don’t respond right away. Take some time to read and re-read this, to think about your response, your feelings. I’m sorry it has taken me this long to tell you. It is my hope that we talk about this and over time, that you ask questions and tell me what you need. It is also my hope that you will get to know Alyson and that you will have the chance to see what I see. Please always know that I love you. Mary
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Mary Warren Foulk has been published in Fjords Review, The Hollins Critic, Pine Hills Review, Palette Poetry, Silkworm, and Steam Ticket, among other publications. Her work also has appeared in (M)othering Anthology (Inanna Publications), and My Loves: A Digital Anthology of Queer Love Poems (Ghost City Press). Her chapbook, If I Could Write You a Happier Ending, was selected by dancing girl press (2021) for their annual series featuring women poets. Her manuscript Self-Portrait with Erosion was a finalist for the 2021 Gival Press Poetry Award.
JJ Rowan (they/them) is a queer nonbinary writer and dancer. Their poems, not-poems, and interactive performances have appeared in the tiny, Dream Pop Journal, 45th Parallel, and at the SMOL Fair and the Splinter Collective’s Interrupted by Trains, among others. Their most recent chapbook is a simple verb (Bloof Books). They are on the editorial team at just femme & dandy. You can sign up for their newsletter, actual motion, at their website.