- How Queens Lose Their Looks
How strange it is to be unafraid. To learn that in the aftermathof violence there is beauty—windows recut into sapphires,
polish of wet charcoal, the solemn smoking embers.When the riot trucks left, gave up the street to the dawn,
we walked out again—those who had not been takenby the raid, all of us nursing wounds of one kind or another—
black eyes, a broken nail, the sculpted nothing left in the placeof so much pain. It wasn't exactly nothing though.
Our lives not entirely undressed. Zazu couldn't stop grinning,her cheek swollen. Tommy kept repeating: Scandalous!
Did you see them running? Did you see them shit their pants?This must be what it's like—the sacrifice paid, the blood dried,
flaking, the blade still wet, and the faces of the exalted—the ones left after, feverish, their limbs still itching with it all.
We walked as if dazed, drugged, our feet finding familiar paths—the circuit of the park, the Square, looping back always
past the gutted ruin of the Stonewall, the smoke still risinglike a thought bubble in a comic, what you could read
on everyone's face printed there. What our lips couldn't form.The Stonewall is gone! The STONE WALL is gone! [End Page 55]
No one could stand still, so we walked on past the windowdressings and marquees, the headlines newly inked,
past silence loitering on the Saturday-morning streets,and the officers patrolling, eyeing us up and down, swinging
their sticks. There we were in that new city. There we werestrolling our avenue, and none of us dropped our eyes to our feet. [End Page 56]
Bradford Tice is a poet and fiction writer who teaches at Nebraska Wesleyan University. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and American Scholar, as well as in Best American Short Stories 2008. His poetry collection Rare Earth (New Rivers P) was named the winner of the 2011 Many Voices Project. The poem featured in this issue comes from a narrative series that simultaneously retells the story of Cupid and Psyche and the events of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 that jump-started the gay and lesbian civil rights movement.