Reader/Writer

By DENISE DUHAMEL

Lady Gaga says she truly cares about all her Little Monsters
and if you don’t believe her that is just because you don’t know her.
They send her fan videos, tell her about the bullying
and the beatings
and she takes it all in. One night a bulimic approached me
at KGB Bar.
Her eyes wet, she said, Your work has meant so much to me.
As she told me she was battling an eating disorder,
I felt so far away, as though I should have started to cry too,
and I did cry, kind of, but it was a fake nervous cry
because I was “on,”
performing a persona, I suppose. I was aware of the line
of people behind her, people waiting to have books signed—
that was so new to me, so weird itself. I said, Thank you
for telling me, which I knew was completely inadequate as I said it.
She was that someone I had hoped for since I started to write,
that someone my poetry had actually helped, yet in that moment
I flubbed it. If she had written to me, I could have written
something back heartfelt, grateful that a poem of mine
actually reached a person who needed it, a poem like a FedEx box.
The woman was disappointed, I could tell, as she slunk away.
I signed books and chitchatted with people who had
clear boundaries—
how perhaps I knew so-and-so, or how I should really try
the soba noodles at Dojo’s. The woman stood near a stool
with her arms crossed. I thought I could feel her stare,
but every time I looked her way, she was looking at the floor.
When I finished signing, I walked towards her to talk to her—
she looked at me, shook her head no, then fled down the stairs.
This was years before Lady Gaga, but I felt like a Mother Monster.

 

Denise Duhamel is the author, most recently, of ScaldBlowout and Ka-Ching!. She is a professor at Florida International University in Miami.

 

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Reader/Writer

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