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A193 julie
Written by Julie R. Enszer. Julie, a first-time Jewrotica writer, is the author of Handmade Love (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2010) and Sisterhood, a chapbook (Seven Kitchens Press, 2010), and editor of Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2011).

Milk and Honey was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry. Her second full-length collection of poetry, Sisterhood, will be published by Sibling Rivalry Press in late fall 2013. She has her MFA and PhD from the University of Maryland. She is a regular book reviewer for the Lambda Book Report and Calyx. You can read more of her work at www.JulieREnszer.com.


Rated R

You gotta live it to feel it,
why it was and it still is
Eminem, 8 Mile Road

When I was a child, another told me
my lips were too big to be white;
she said, There is something in your past.
She was ominous; I, mystified.
They’re not white, they’re pink!
She replied, It happened all the time,
you know
, though I didn’t. Other kids
are talking, but
, she reassured me,
I don’t care. I was only eleven or twelve
just beginning to understand
the expressions of race.

Twenty-five years later,
my lover and I look at a photograph
of her grandmother—an African-American,
though she called herself Negro.
My wife marvels at how much
she looks like my grandmother
who has always been white.
It doesn’t unsettle me,
this racial convergence;
maybe my grandmother
was a race-traitor, too.

I lack the rhythm for hip-hop,
the soul for the blues,
the intellect for jazz. Being white,
in some circles, a cultural deficit,
so my wife generously calls me
“black by injection,” which is
impossible; we can’t transmutate
race, or even cross between
white and black, except when we do:
when we walk among different worlds,
speaking in foreign tongues
like when I bop and bounce
outside the beat,
move my body to music
with no regard for rhythm,
when I dance inappropriately.

My father tells my wife,
She’s not just white, you know.
He harkens back to the hidden
family heritage—Cherokee or Potawatomi.
My wife just nods and smiles.
She has seen my pink nipples.
She knows black when she sees it.

One of my best friends is Indian;
she made me crave the curry.
Now I’m a maven; I know all the joints
around the city. She wanted to go to
the temple in India, to fulfill a Hindu
tradition and make a sacrifice of her hair.
We read how shorn hair is sold
in the west for wigs, expensive ones,
often worn by Orthodox Jews
commanded in marriage to cover their hair.
I wonder, what circumstances
of our births would have to change
for her to be shaven in India,
for me to be wearing a wig from her hair?

If I were Orthodox, I’m sure
I’d spend most of my days
wearing a snood—tightly-knit
by my own hand. Simple.
A different religious practice
would not change my orientation.
I can see me in a snood,
except I would reject the premise
of modestly; I’d wear it only
for my own comfort, to contain
my unwashed mane, and let’s be honest:
it is not uncovered hair that
would eject me from Orthodoxy.

There is no injecting in lesbian sex;
no spontaneous or controlled eruptions
of fluid deposited near the cervix;
certainly there are fluids and yes
they erupt—the spittle that escapes
the lip during conversation, the pussy
juice that seeps onto the bed
even the ejaculate that sprays
on nipples and stomach
and pubic mons—but still I say no.
No injection, despite penetration
and the politics of intercourse
and outercourse, there is no
lesbian injection making me black.

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Julie is a poet and the author of Handmade Love, Sisterhood and the editor of Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry. Julie has her MFA and PhD from the University of Maryland, and is a regular book reviewer for the Lambda Book Report and Calyx.