Writing, Identity, & Queer Studies

In & Out, Either/Or, and Everything In Between

I’m her best chance

Like my mother // who won’t stay dead, her eyes fixing into mine like she knows // I’m her best chance.

For the closing piece in Mosaic of the Dark, titled “Even Houseflies”, Lisa Dordal writes a beautiful poem about how even houseflies have angels, just like the rest of us. One of my favorite moments in this poem is when Dordal mentions her mother, comparing her to the fly in the room, gently reminding her of her presence even after death.

Dordal writes “her eyes fixing into mine like she knows // I’m her best chance”. I love these lines because it feels like there are multiple meanings here. At first, I read these lines as simply her mother watching her from afar, knowing Lisa is her best chance of communicating with the world. This has been an ongoing theme in several poems in Mosaic of the Dark, and Dordal has made it clear that communication between her and her mother could be strained at best. However, as we have also discovered throughout this book of poems, Dordal’s mother was quite possibly a closeted lesbian. After reading this through a few more times, I realized this moment in the poem may be a metaphor of not only her mother as a fly on the wall but also of their relationship while she was alive. I believe Dordal’s choice to write “I’m her best chance” is critical here because there are of course many people Lisa’s mother could have tried to communicate with after death. In fact, she probably had a better relationship with a lot of other people. However, for Dordal to claim that she was her best chance means that there was something specific about Lisa that would allow her to understand.

I would argue that the detail only Lisa carries is her experience as a lesbian. Coming out is such a difficult thing for anyone, but to come out to someone who understands, let alone has experience in, the LGBTQ+ community would be a logical first step. I believe this line in the poem was a very intentional and beautiful message from Dordal that LGBTQ+ identifying individuals understand each other and share a lived experience unlike anyone else. However, as much as I understand and agree with this point, I also think it is interesting to relate it back to Michael Warner’s idea about how even LGBTQ+ identifying people can be dismissive and even discriminatory of other “deviant” sexual choices. Certainly, not all queer people are completely accepting of all other queer people and to believe otherwise is somewhat naive, in Warner’s eyes. I imagine that Dordal would be very accepting of her mother’s sexuality, but I have to agree with Warner that, in general, speaking with just any queer person when coming out is not always going to be the “best chance” at acceptance.

1 Comment

  1. I agree with your analysis of Dordal’s mother watching her! I took this as a comment of her mother understanding Dordal’s own predicament of figuring out her sexuality. Perhaps it was a way for the two to connect, especially in context to her “Intersection” poem. Although her mother passed before Dordal accepted her sexuality, “Even Houseflies” could be about how her mother is still watching over her.

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