Love In Novels: The Art Of Reading Bi (1966)

Nov 1, 2018 | 2018 Fall - Pop Culture, Articles, Poetry

By Jane Barnes

Heidi and Nancy Drew smart girls like me got
into trouble then saved the day but my Judy-love
was soft and willing we sewed in 4-H together and
lay in her bed after threading our hair on one pillow

our love stitched tight hands making the sign for woven
then quick! boy-girl parties where wet-lipped males
splashed kisses on our chic mouths then they packed
Judy off to a Catholic girls (ahem) school and

boys like Elvis smiled out of the fan magazines
Seventeen sold pimple cream but nothing about
both until I found Colette in a library and her own
Claudine (and Renaud) the French so broad-minded

then came Margaret Anderson of The Little Review and the
lady couples between the wars going to college and gay boys
became novelists but stayed in the closet and Virginia Woolf
(bi) wrote for Vita Sackville-West her fluid Orlando who was

a girl/boy/girl/boy. Then Violet Trefusis and Vita’s love
letters blazed they snuck over to France away from their
imposed husbands lured back by heir trust funds Couldn’t I
be on be on I could see myself on Le Train Bleu in cloche and

flapper dress near two girls necking a bundle of love letters from
him or her in my little pink clutch please God, don’t let my girl-love
marry that rich queer man who needs her for his cover give her to me
even if biographers lie that I’m “like a sister,” or “her companion of

many years” and if it’s a man don’t say I’m straight when my
previous love was a woman and furthermore I happen to like
dark men and blond women men who cook, women I can cook for
I listen to my heart it is my bi-story* how in the end it’s either.


* sic

Jane Barnes is a long-time New Yorker, currently living in Staten Island

Featured image: Human Condition 4. Acrylic piece by Jo-Anne Carlson

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