Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 17 • Spring 2006 • Featured Writer • Poetry

Passing into Baltimore

Maureen Seaton

  • I pray to the steamy grapefruit groves and the great blue heron, the ghost orchids and the kneeling cypress, to every road that dead-ends into Florida swamp and sea. I'm armed with Anne Tyler novels, I'm camouflaged in peach lipstick. I've got my story straight (my straight story) and I'm ready to pass through the hinter into Baltimore.

  • A doe in a chopped up field reminds me of my youngest sibling and what a Bambi-killer I've become to her -- Iscariot when I was supposed to be her godmother.

  • There's God's green river.

  • There's God's white sky.

  • Whenever I train through country I mourn these gorgeous places. Where my sister lives they nick strangers who jog and pour sugar into people's gas tanks, the Coon Club and the rebel flags and the gospels directing it all. (I know this can happen anywhere.)

  • The land near the river is dotted with unsteady trailers. Jesus lives in the pocked Airstream, eating trout.

  • When I first came out in the eighties my boss asked me how I would like it if she walked into work one day and told me she'd slept with her horse.

  • (sic)

  • I meet a woman and her grown son (Ellen and David from Forest Hills) in the dining car. David takes a freighter to Brazil every fall. He stays as long as he wants then grabs the next freighter home. I'd have to scrap the lipstick and go for a more mustachioed disguise in order to carry that one off solo. I want to slip who I really am into the conversation -- I like these people -- but I miss my opportunity.

  • Mary explodes into light.
    Mary's face explodes with peace.
    Mary's love kills her.

  • Mary, the femme.

  • Once in Mary Land I feel braver. I see John Waters pacing at the train station. I love his characters and Tyler's -- women oracles and men who take good care of their stepchildren. Soon there will be Mary's beautiful bay and Mary's rain-filled weekend, Mary's arm around the city, and Mary's queen-sized bed where I can stretch out and pretend I'm a starfish in the grand order of things (the order of grand crooked things) (the fabulous disorder of grand and crooked queer things).

  • In Baltimore I am full of grace.
Maureen Seaton

Maureen Seaton's latest collection is Venus Examines Her Breast (Carnegie Mellon University Press), winner of the Publishing Triangle's Audre Lorde Award. She is also the author of Little Ice Age; Furious Cooking, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize and a Lambda Literary Award; Fear of Subways, winner of the Eighth Mountain Poetry Prize; and The Sea Among the Cupboards, winner of the Capricorn Award and the Society of Midland Authors Award. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, New Republic, Bloom, and many other journals both on- and off-line. The recipient of an NEA fellowship and two Pushcart prizes, she is Director of Creative Writing at the University of Miami.

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