After Sappho

Long before we were denied access
to our lovers on their deathbeds

Long before our shaved heads outraged you
and long tresses confused you

Long before we identified each other
through stride, shirt and prolonged eye contact

Long before we were teenagers beaten,
called names, run out of homes

Long before we were children drawn
to that one lone woman not in a dress

Long before the violence of history, pulpit
language and pen were enacted on our bodies

Long before the narcissism of your pornography
and the delusions of your medicine

Long before the secret spaces filled with longing
and failed marriages filled with excuses

Long before Ruth said to Naomi: “Where thou diest
will I die, and there will I be buried”

Long before Sappho proclaimed her words
immortal, despite being only breath.