Writing, Identity, & Queer Studies

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

Kissing Energy

“Kissing energy we call it.

But all they see is


This passage is striking in its relevance to the issues of the modern day as well as its tie-in to Mosaic of the Dark as a whole. To start, the words that seem to have an emphasis in these lines are “they” and “we.” This contrast of us/them is apt in Dortal’s book because of its closeness to the difference of being queer or straight. In this book of discovery, this theme comes up repeatedly. The “unseen..thing” of the relationship that these two women have are obvious to them but less so to those who are looking to hurt them. This “something” may be an analogy for what is nagging at Dordal as she looks to find herself. There is something different about her that prompts a feeling of introspection and is also a question but until she realizes that she is queer, there is a confused sense of kissing energy for her. What now seems so obvious to those in the relationship is actually blurry to the outside world, for better or for worse.

Even the wording of “kissing energy” invokes an inside connection. This energy is captured within a closed system of those who are connected. The outside forces may not be able to see what is happening within the system even if they can sense a connection of energy between the parts of the system.

In the terms of larger queer studies, this poem is connected to the tragic violence that many queer people face.  “The Lies that Saved Us”  focuses on the sense of insecurity that a queer couple feels. They “lie like Abraham” just to feel safe. Their connection is noted but is a case of mistaking their identity rather than who they truly are. People think the couple are sisters and think they “have figured out some secret code” when the couple plays along. This line just serves to reinforce the misconceptions that queer couples may feel obligated to uphold to protect their safety. Once again, this plays to the trope of the collection of poems about identity—hidden and otherwise. These women “know the power in things unseen” and are able to use that power to protect themselves as well as to seemingly create an inside sense of connections that the world can misperceive.


  1. literaryvampire

    October 8, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Your thoughts on “tragic violence” in the context of this poem me think of a quote by Harvey Milk — “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” Milk’s thinking here is valid, but I think that in cases like Dordal’s, in which queer individuals face violence after coming out, there is a lot more to queer justice than just coming out of the closet. I think that an argument could then be made that the closet door expands far beyond not yet being out, and can extend to remedying the dangerous perceptions that still face queer people long after coming out.

  2. westcoastbesttoast

    October 8, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    This passage really stood out to me as well and I do agree that that the words “kissing energy does invoke a deep connection. As stated, it does imply an energy that can only be shared between the two people. What I like about those words is that it is inclusive, that anyone can feel kissing energy regardless of gender or sex. I like that Dordal put this poem because it speaks to a wider audience.

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