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The word came after me, then hid each time
I turned to look at it.
It breathed in the hedge. I could hear it bite
and snap the air.

I feared the woman with slicked-back hair
sitting on a bar stool,
her back to the dance floor, a beer in her hands.
Disco drove the word away

but it came back: Bulldyke, Bulldagger.
What did the word want
with me, and why this dread, this desire, this
dangerous butch

striding through Kenmore Square
Dyke had a spike in it, a cleated surge.
In leathers, the word leapt

18th century grillwork
on the Boston Common and led the parade
around the city,
the slow, snaking, joyful, motorcade

of a new millennium. First
I had to hate her;
then I had to hurt her; the rest of my life,
I ate from her hand.

Robin Becker

American Poetry Review

September/October 2013

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