July Westhale


For Eloise Klein Healy

What is it, anyway, that fills you

if not matter in a void? I never wanted
to be one of those lesbian poets
who writes about their mothers—So don’t
she says, and the line goes dead.
What is the mole hill without the mole,
a kitchen table without placemats, Sunday
without the phone? This is a time when most
are making long-distance calls if they have to
and driving over for dinner if they don’t.
Add an ‘s’, and it smothers, is what I’m telling myself.
That reliable absence is a way to know
you come from everything. This way,
you make the map and the legend.

Today people, grown and not, are walking in stride
with bodies who bore them, who bear them still,
who bear them empty, who say they are the promise
of everything, the gift of wanting, who let the phone ring
once before answering, I’m here.


July Westhale is a Fulbright-nominated poet, activist, and journalist. She has been awarded residencies from the Lambda Literary Foundation, Sewanee, Napa Valley, Tin House and Bread Loaf. Her poetry has most recently been published in Adrienne, burntdistrict, Eleven Eleven, Sugar Mule, The East Bay Review, 580 Split, Quarterly West, and PRISM International. She is the 2014 Tomales Bay Poetry Fellow. www.julywesthale.com