20 May Beige Heterosexuals
after Jameson Fitzpatrick
Oppression is a brown woman,
who used to be beige and called
Gerald, until she discovered it
an unfortunate name for a girl,
taking up no seats on the bus
because she prefers to travel
in the luggage compartment,
despite always buying
at least three tickets.
It is also my both telling you,
and yet not telling you, how she looked
when she emerged with the rest of the luggage
a little less brown than when she dived in there
but, so far as we could tell, still heterosexual
and no longer named anything like Gerald.
Oppression is also her body’s distance,
socially and physically, from the lavatory
—which is no great shakes anyway—
on this bus she is taking from
Ballina and I am taking
from Sligo. And how
my finding her bladder control,
in which I must put my faith, impressive
makes me no more likely to ask,
should her gaze meet mine,
why the fuck anyone would
choose to travel that way.
What I’m trying to say is distance
is the problem with formerly beige
who choose to travel in luggage compartments.
I’m not one of them, so I can both write this poem
and at the same time
not write it.
Distance, because it offers
the possibility of her not being there
when the luggage is claimed;
that she may turn out
to be imaginary and never to have been
either beige or called Gerald.
Oppression is both me being unable
to find a place for my suitcase
because the luggage compartment’s chock full of
now brown heterosexual women
each of them originally called something like Gerald
—an unfortunate name for a girl—
and me later on denying these women’s existence.
Kevin Higgins’s Song of Songs 2:0 – New and Selected Poems will be published by Salmon Poetry in April. His poems have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Times (UK), The Independent, and The Daily Mirror. The Stinging Fly magazine recently described Kevin as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland.”