On the Day the Last Drag Queen Leaves Town

by Eric Leigh

for Issan

The boys downstairs huff gasoline
off strips of Mother’s emerald gown,
making what joy they can
out of fume and a knockoff Halston.
No note, no explanation, only thing
she left is a hole where reason should be.
You grow a heart and feed it leftovers:
stray earrings, scuffed-out pumps,
the soft pink flame of her first feather boa.
How it curled around her shoulders
when she did the lucky snake dance,
the one with the shimmy, where her hands
dangled at her side and slapped her hips.
And then she’d wave her hand across the air
just as she did every morning when
you’d wake her with an orange for breakfast,
a bowl of milk for her facial, and she’d give
you a word: banana, somehow transformed
by the dissonance of painted lips and baritone.
Truth is you’ll be just fine. Remember a girl
in high heels can still win a race.
You’re just missing the way she knew you—
the way the tree stump loves the ax,
because the blade still sees a use in an old piece
of oak. Drive into town and get drunk,
watch the sole streetlight turn yellow,
sway in the breeze. Wait for someone to ask
about him, then testify. Tell them she was
last seen two-stepping into the dawn, working
the moon for its last bit of butter, the wig
slipping from her head. Because if somebody
goes asking about Mother, seems they need
a happy ending. Go ahead, give it.

From: Harm’s Way
Poems by Eric Leigh
The University of Arkansas Press


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