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November 2022 - Jessica Nirvana Ram

When I tell my mother I’d been hit on three times

during my trip to NY, she is pleased. Tells me, look

at everything that is possible for you & I do not

tell her about the woman at the club. How she smiled

at me from the crowd, danced her way over to where

I’d been sitting on the couch, how she pulled me up

to my feet without saying a word, just her hands

over my hands, her swaying body, me rocking my hips

to the music. Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me boomed over us

& she brought us closer, shouted show me until our

hips were flush with one another & listen, I can’t dance,

I can keep a beat, so I move as best as I can, my body

the closest its ever been to another woman, our faces

a breath away. She keeps looking at me, I wonder

what she is thinking about, if she thinks I am beautiful

& she’s smiling, this kind & warm smile, & my chest

bubbles beneath the music & it doesn’t last & I don’t

get to thank her before she disappears into the crowd.

I see her when we are in line to get our coats at the end

of the night & I don’t know if she sees me, I don’t know

if it matters, it was just a dance, but now I have this moment,

this insignificant little moment, & I will hold it so close,

so quiet— I wonder, did hiding things under my pillow

ever keep my mother from finding them? Won’t this secret

find its way through the cracks eventually? I keep thinking

about the inevitability, the day I have to tell my mother

what I am, & all that will come with that, whether

or not I’ll have to bury myself for her sake. Some days

I want her to figure it out on her own & say it for me,

so I don’t have to, so I can just be, like that night, let her

take me by the hands & lead me, lead us somewhere

beautiful, somewhere for the both of us.

"November 2022" is one of the first explicitly queer poems I've written. Because it's one of the first explicitly queer moments of my adulthood. It feels pivotal in that way, marking a shift. I love how the poem feels like a dance, how it tries to be hopeful in spite of everything.


JESSICA NIRVANA RAM is an Indo-Guyanese first generation daughter of immigrants. She is a poet and essayist. Jessica earned her MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and her BA from Susquehanna University. Her full length collection, EARTHLY GODS, is forthcoming with Variant Lit in 2024.

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