While on the faculty at Oral Roberts University, I wrote the following poem. The year was 1988. I had been teaching a women’s literature course, a senior seminar. When I introduced feminist criticism, I used a text, which I then loaned to a student, a copy in which I had (scandalously) underlined the word “Lesbian.” This female student took the book to the dean, in an effort to report my behavior (apparently unbecoming an ORU faculty member). I was then called into the Dean of Women’s office to “discuss” the matter, where I was asked about my sexual orientation–I kid you not. At the time I hadn’t discovered yet that I am, indeed, (blush, blush) a Lesbian.
In reading back over the poem, planning to discuss the incident with my now partner, I think to myself, “What kind of God-forsaken place was this! It’s no wonder I subsequently had a nervous breakdown.”
I hope you’ll read the poem and tell me your thoughts on the matter.
inquisitioni balance on the edge of a yellow wing back chair in a room that’s clean and at odd angles with a window and a view of roof it’s easy to think of her as an enemy— the fat woman with stiff hair across the desk from me we don’t want you to feel like this is a witch hunt, she says but, of course, we both know that it is—that it’s me at stake, because i’ve got a back that’s made of bone, because i bleed we don’t believe in blood, she says, we don’t believe in bone. (poem written 7 December 1988)