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Reading: Fugitive Intimacies

Joseph Pierce
Saturday, August 12, 2023
12:45PM—12:50PM EDT
The Beach at Fishermans Path
Fire Island Pines, NY
Reading of Fugitive Intimacies

Fugitive Intimacies

By Joseph M. Pierce (Cherokee Nation)

“In the fleeting moments that linger on despite our fading memories, we whose bodies are mercifully incapable of permanence, bodies breaking under the weight of a temporality that knows only the pulverizing now, bodies in crystalline architecture, glistening, bodies in formation, bodies in the overflow, bodies in the wake, in those moments that are of course, not just moments, we recall that we were not alone. 

How could we be alone, when our flights (of fancy) remind us that we could never be singular. As if our touch could ever present itself in isolation. Rather, in curling arabesques our bodies know by the grace of warmth on skin, a baroque insistence on form, reeds swaying trellis, sacred pearls resisting a violent tide, in the freedom of the blooming multiplicity of a belief in the possibility of tomorrow. Then, of course, we were not alone. 

We were always incandescent.  

We found, I mean to say, the heart of the matter: “forget everything you’ve learned about love.”

Billy-Ray Belcourt puts it that way in a poem titled Towards a Theory of Decolonization, a poem that is not so much a theory as it is an instantiation of what our breaking bodies know to be true: to be holy and nurturing in this world that layers ash upon bone is to exchange luminous glances of knowing conspiracy, is to forget and forget and forget, is to become breath on liquid promises of an unbound tomorrow. 

Or else, to insist on becoming whole again, to understand how, in the splintering waves, we came to believe that our bodies deserved this malice, our visions unattended, our fire left to consume itself without the requisite prayer that would—if the stars aligned and the glistening backs of men bent in humility—still our breathing, if only for a moment. Why did we believe this? Why did we not remember that we have always found joy in the terrible promise of a silent assent, worlds colliding? But we remember now. We recall and in so doing, give the ancestors a chance at incorporating, which is to say to pick up the pieces of us, even when there are so many missing, lost in the tidal fantasies of a purple oblivion.   

We found that our becomings have always been holy. 

We found ourselves in the arcing promise of another firmament, one whose stories are reflected, in perfect symmetry, on our own chests, heaving with lust for what can only be imagined as a body, sovereign and enfleshed by the witnessing of such a furtive, fugitive intimacy.”

Joseph M. Pierce is Associate Professor in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature at Stony Brook University. His research focuses on the intersections of kinship, gender, sexuality, and race in Latin America, 19 th century literature and culture, queer studies, Indigenous studies, and hemispheric approaches to citizenship and belonging.


He is the author of Argentine Intimacies: Queer Kinship in an Age of Splendor, 1890-1910 (SUNY Press, 2019) and co-editor of Políticas del amor: Derechos sexuales y escrituras disidentes en el Cono Sur (Cuarto Propio, 2018) as well as the 2021 special issue of GLQ, “Queer/Cuir Américas: Translation, Decoloniality, and the Incommensurable.” His work has been published recently in Revista Hispánica Moderna, Critical Ethnic Studies, Latin American Research Review, and has also been featured in Indian Country Today. Along with S.J. Norman (Koori of Wiradjuri descent) he is co-curator of the performance series Knowledge of Wounds. He is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.