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Katherine Fallon

Manhattan 2004: Claudia, L Word

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City still cast beneath a spell of soot, we penny-pinched
so we could frequent sex shops, arepa stands, queer parties

that traveled from club to club because there were clubs
in their piquant, foreign plurality.

Personally, I found Sam dull, but in New York,
all three of us newly transplanted, Claudia fell in love
with her again.             No one followed anyone.

Drunk from a tourist trap, we three went down on Sam’s
Murphy bed and they were asleep in minutes. Beside
their tangled bodies, I was introduced to fictional dykes

in a Los Angeles I was to believe was small, perpetually
sunny, and devoid of lower class. I was better. I was jealous.

Claudia’s arm twitched against mine. My mouth watered:
Shane, philandering Shane, mistaken often for a twink.

While I did not like men, I did like the confusion she bred.
Do like the women who straddle.

I want to say I watched the sun come up, but it was only
a reflection against the walls of the windows of strangers.

Had I ever felt so solo.

It came as no surprise to me when Sam broke Claudia,
and Bette and Tina had makeup sex that read more like

rape, and I drank myself into amnesia for loneliness.
One by one, we made our exits. I was doing whatever

I could to be attractive, except be present—

Golden State Killer

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Air conditioners off, televisions muted
and covered with sheets, you listened,

teeth gnashing, for would-be saviors
and your own orchestrated earthquakes:

porcelain dishes stacked upon the backs
of helpless husbands, bound by their own

shoelaces while their wives suffered you.
Any movement meant sound, meant

a bludgeon, a bullet, though at times
no movement was needed. Your body’s

grotesque ammunition spent over and over
inside women you killed or left grieving,

you snacked at intervals, naked before
their refrigerators, able to be choosy.

Meanwhile, your children were raised
until they weren’t children anymore,

and all went so silent you forgot to listen.
You didn’t hear your cold case crack open

like a sternum. Didn’t hear them coming,
so much later, to speak your given name.

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