and it falls like a shield as we talk about where the moon was the day we were born and the city we live in and she tells me things about herself i will not remember, all i remember is i’m smiling because i am finally close enough to touch her. my eyelids and lips are red and my shirt is red and the blue on her face glows red and we are red as we sit there, the alcohol and the company and the posters on the walls making me forget that we are women who love women instead i just feel like a person who is alive and she’s alive with me and we were once colorless but now we are red. we talk about the tv show that made us feel seen when we were younger and the fanfiction hidden in the internet that made us feel different and suddenly, we who were once terrified, sitting in a computer-lit haze reading about love we craved but couldn’t find, see ourselves in each other’s shared fantasies of silicon and flesh and the taste of characters who looked like us but surely couldn’t be like us and before i have time to scan the room before i remember that i shouldn’t need to before i have time to hesitate she closes the space between us and kisses me softly and for once i am grateful for another person taking control. her kiss, gentle for a moment, before honoring its truth feels red as the red on my lips stains hers and we are both red as she knocks her teeth against mine we are red and she tastes like roses and lavender and i trace the alcohol from her lips to her chin as i fall beneath her my head hanging off the edge of the booth her legs on mine her skin pouring through my finger tips and i forget that people can see us and for once i am not afraid that they will. she bites the skin on my neck and i can’t hear or see anything anymore i just feel the red flowing out of me and i want to blend into her in this moment where for once i am not afraid for once i am certain for once i don’t want to say no and she knows i would fuck her right then if i could and i mention the bathroom and we both agree that we deserve better and we do and soon we will have it, we will have better on the blue of my bed with the pink of my sheets and the red of her earrings falling on my face. soon we will have the better and then worse but until then I crawl into her and i think i could live on her breath in my mouth and the velvet of her dress and the softness of her scarf and the sweat on her lips. i kiss her goodbye and her name is red on my phone screen and my cheeks are red at the thought of her touching me and i lose my breath again. i get home and run my fingers across the places she couldn’t touch in the back of that bar but i can’t come though i try for what feels like hours, unable to calm the red that pulses from my legs through my stomach to my throat because my body is no longer the same without her. i fall asleep in a cloud of her and don’t wake until i have to.
in the morning i touch the red she left on my skin with her teeth and i feel the heat her body left under my fingernails, and i wish they were red, too.
Q – Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
I am a 23-year-old communications associate and writer living in Brooklyn. During the day, I work at a public affairs firm helping clients with various communications projects as they relate to public policy and politics in New York City and nationally. Outside of work, I write poetry and creative nonfiction.
My work focuses on queerness, sex, and what it means to be a woman today.
also am an avid concert-goer and do my best to see and support as many artists as I can.
Q – How important do you feel queerness and representation in arts & culture is?
As a Latinx queer woman, I have struggled to see myself and my experience represented in arts and culture in a way that was not essentialised or tokenised. I didn’t know queer art and books and shows existed because they were never shown to me. Now, almost all the arts and culture I consume is by queer people, and
I feel so much more seen and so much less alone than I ever have before.
I am so sad when I think about all the years I spent not feeling like my story was worth telling, and I hope young queer people are able to find queer media as early as possible so they, too, can feel valued.
Q – The theme of our second issue is ‘Dream’. Can you tell us how your work fits with that theme?
For so long, living openly as a queer person was just a dream to me.
I always dreamt of what being out and queer would look like, and for so long I didn’t feel like I could ever have it. The night this poem describes felt like a dream to me. I didn’t know that I could ever have an experience like this, being out and kissing another woman in public, feeling breathless thinking about her, falling asleep still thinking about her. Being able to live into my queerness is a dream for me, and every romantic and sexual experience I have with another queer person feels like I am living a dream that I never thought would ever come to me.
Q – When writing poetry what do you want the reader to take from your words?
I want readers to know that my work is an example of who and where I am at any given moment.
I am constantly learning and unlearning, and my poetry reflects what a long, hard, and beautiful process that is.
There are poems and songs I wrote when I was far younger that depict a person and an experience that I no longer relate to, and I love to look back on them and hold space and care for that younger version of me. When I am older, I hope to do the same with the person I am and the words that I write now.
Q – If you had one piece of advice for your younger self (looking back now) what would it be and why?
Learn to forgive yourself and show yourself compassion.You’ll need it to heal.
Olivia Zayas Ryan
She / Her | Brooklyn, New York | Communications Associate
Olivia was interviewed by Lucy Everett