Our Public and Private Faces

When I make love, nothing is held back or hidden. That doesn’t mean I have to make love with everyone I love, just to prove to them I truly love them.

Every person I love may see me naked, sometimes even if I am making love with my lover. I’m not shy with those I love. That doesn’t mean I have to strip down for everyone I care for as a friend, just to prove to them that I do truly care.

Every person I come in contact with at all, even the most remote stranger, may see my eyes, sometimes even when they are crying over my most secret pain. I don’t mask myself, not ever. That doesn’t mean that I have to open my door to let someone come spraypaint graffiti all over my home, just to prove I do believe in free speech.

And even people who pretend to ignore me out on the street, that’s their choice and they are still always free to see me as I am in public. I’m no different just because I’m clothed and keeping intimacies reserved for those I love most dearly. I’m not one way in bed then a liar out on the street – it’s the same me, private or public.

That’s how it is for this public face we’ve begun posting for our collaboration. Our group shares a very active private poetry blog that serves our purposes quite well – think of it as all seven of us in bed together at once, metaphorically speaking but every bit as open as if we truly were so. This comment blog and its associated poetry blog are the “street” version of that. Everything we say in the public version is just as true and as real as the bedroom version, and our words won’t change direction based on audience or venue. It’s just that there are certain things we will only share with those who are prepared to take responsibility for complete and honest intimacy.

So look, I’m married to Dean, so quite obviously it might seem a little silly or even pretentious or some other thing our detractors like to insult if I exchange comments with my own husband here, when we all know I whisper “what I really mean” every night making love with him. What I really mean? Hey, talking with my husband when I make love with him doesn’t mean I ignore him and don’t speak with him when we’re together out at our favorite poetry club downtown, does it?

Ditto Sara, married to David. And ditto Cynthia, who lives with Denise. And every one of our group has met each of the other ones face to face. And although we now live in separate geographies, we have video calls and phone calls and chats and e-mails and very active discussions in our private poetry blog each and every single day. Anyone else out there who has such private contact with any close lover, friend or colleague knows that when you’ve got such heavy private conversations going on, then anything you say to each other in public is said knowing it might be heard by someone else, or sometimes is even said to your loved one knowing it will be shared by someone else. That is so commonplace as to be downright universal. Think that it’s still truthful for you but not for me, and yours is a hypocritical truth. The point being that what we say here is as truthful both to us and to everyone else as it is when we say it in our most private moments.

– Maggie, speaking for all of us

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