In a Berlin Bar

In a Berlin Bar
Rafaella Del Bourgo

Stella says it first,
I am not a lesbian.
I say, I’m not one either.
On the stage, a small orchestra,
warm thirties jazz.
Men, mostly dressed in glittery hats and straps,
dance with other men,
and the women in three piece suits,
striped, and ties,
dance with other women.

The slender man I came with,
who is not enough of a woman
or is too much of a woman,
is dancing with Stella’s pretty brother
who is wrapped in a red silk dress.

Outside, winter snow.
Inside, my friend laughing,
head tipped back, his white throat exposed.
Stella glances at him.
Says, I have faith. God
does not pay attention to what we wear.
God does not make judgments about who we love.

I’ve heard this before and shrug.

She is plain. Chalky moon-faced,
flat eyes the color of slate.
She is also in a silky dress,
keeping time with her lacquered fingernails on the table top.
Come on, she tells me, we might as well.
I’ll be the girl.
We make our way onto the floor.
She places my right hand on her waist,
which is both tender and firm.
Rests her left hand on my shoulder.
Stella’s good; we move easily to the music,
a tune both familar and strange.

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