- dis/chord:nuclear disfunction in diminished 4ths
1. ( ) of July
Somewhere in Indiana my parents are grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. I don’t need to call them to know this. They’re in their backyard, just over an acre of trim grass. The Midwestern heat is a rough beast, its gaze blank and pitiless as the sun.
My parents are drinking vodka martinis with three olives each. I know exactly the intonation in my father’s voice as he asks, You want onions on that dog? I heard it every summer for eighteen years.
My parents married right out of college. Six years later one girl and two-and-a-half years after that they had one boy.
2. ( ) Dimension
I share a bed with two women. Occasionally more. I’ve stopped counting my tattoos. People call me sir as often as ma’am. I live in a room in the city. I spend days writing poems and nights at the cabaret. I’m thirty-one. My parents do not understand my life.
My brother married a woman right out of college. It’s six years later and they just had their first baby. A girl. My parents understand.
I could have married a man right out of college. There was no temporal pivot, no eureka when everything became clear and I rejected their straight and narrow for my queer and wide-open. An infinite number of invisible choices carried me this far away from my family. [End Page 249]
3. ( ) Wall
My father is two-and-a-half years younger than his sister. They lost his father when my father was eighteen. My father has wanted to recreate the perfect family he feels like he lost ever since.
When my father married my mother, he told her they would have one girl and then one boy. When my mother saw my brother was a boy she cried because she knew that meant she couldn’t have any more children.
Half-life is a misnomer. Nuclear decay creates completely new elements. These elements are called, “daughter elements.”
My therapist is impressed by my mother and me. We can argue about lifestyle and values, but never forget our bond. “Most people can’t step outside of fundamental disagreements while they’re having them the way you two can.”
I told her it was something we had to learn if we wanted to go on loving each other. It was clear from the time I was seven that my parents and I would disagree on almost everything.
4. ( ) Coming
My two partners and I are going to have a baby. The sperm has been offered by a dear friend. The plan is in motion.
My father and mother are grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, drinking martinis. Somewhere in some other dimension there is the plan for me that they had. I/she am/is married with two children, one girl and two-and-a-half years later one boy.
Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold. I will not recreate my father’s family. I will create my own. I move my heavy thighs and call my mother. She picks up and says, “Hello?” I answer with a voice that is half me and half her. I do not slouch as I make my revelation. I tell her the good news. [End Page 250]
Jade Sylvan (they/them/their), called a “risqué queer icon” by the Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. They wrote a book called Kissing Oscar Wilde and are currently writing sci-fiburlesque theater and supernatural nun smut.