The first legal gay marriages were welcomed by the Worcester town government while other communities in Massachusetts were so caught up in the new administrative nightmare the court decision permitting gay marriage caused that they seemed to lose touch with the real meaning of the day. Everywhere there was a consciousness of history being made, but Worcester in particular seemed to understand the very human scale of the day – marriage in all its seriousness, somberness, joyousness, beauty, fear.
There was a real fear at the time that the law would be reversed, and that the marriages might be annulled by the state afterward.
May 17, 2004
When I was a little kid, Henry used to come visit: one of my mother’s friends,
an actor and artist.
He painted cartoons on the walls of my mother’s living room.
I went to see him perform in New York–my first Broadway play.
Later, he came to visit more often,
while his partner Rob was dying
and he needed a place to meditate.
Now he’s gone, too;
I still keep his denim jacket in my closet.
When I was twelve I used to visit my sister in Boston,
about the time she met M–,
although she was still living with someone else at the time.
Later, she and M– moved to Philly;
when I was in college I would apartment-sit for them sometimes.
Now they’re back in Massachusetts, back home.
When I was a freshman in college
Phil managed the bookstore where I worked.
There wasn’t much hope that he and his partner Marty would survive long
But they took experimental drugs and worked out constantly,
determined to cheat death a little longer–
determined to live to see today.
I lost touch with them when they moved to Pittsburgh;
I don’t know if they made it.
That was eighteen years ago.
I drove through Worcester today
looking for fireflies in the air–
hoping that change, like fireflies, is not ephemeral.
Henry and Rob and Phil and Marty are gone
but my sister lives in Massachusetts now
and today, we are all from Worcester.
Copyright © 2004 by Leigh Grossman