Coming out: a family dinner drama

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This month I am trying out different ways of personal writing and narrative  – here is a poem for #NationalComingOutDay. It’s a lovely memory I have of my Grandfather – who saved the day when my mother finally put two and two together!  

Home from Canada, an extended family dinner

My granddad, parents and us all with

The best dishes, wobbly spare chairs

Gravy and fags, with roast potato top note.

Dad promising again to clear the attic

Stuffed with car coats, rugs and old TVs

A dusty Aladdin’s Cave, if Ali Baba collected

Shit that no one else would want.

Unthinking, in a Yorkshire pudding fugue

I ask for a duvet, there’s loads of doubles begging

“We need one”. I say, remembering

The fight and tussle over the single we have now

In our Toronto flat, second bedroom window dressing

For parental visits, when we rush around

And “straighten up” – flinging the lesbian lit,

Big bellied Goddesses and “Queer as Fuck” t-shirts under the bed

Silence. I look around. Rewind in my head.

“What”? My mum’s face, thunderstruck.

“WE need one?” She throws her fork.

My face is burning -and I realise, this is it. Coming out day.

Not news, I think, for some at this table. But never spoken of.

I am 24, not bold, not proud. I want to kill her; and then after die of shame.

I mumble – yes, for us, for us, its love, we are together.

She huffs and puffs, “you’re not one of those….a his and hers – are you?”

My granddad shifts, clears his throat and pushes his plate away

He looks at me, eyes kind and sad as always, and he says

“Love, love is what we need; finding love is what it is about”

And stunned, we stumble onwards to the apple crumble, with custard.

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