Several Ways of Seeing Gender – New Poem

A work in progress. Feel free to make suggestions (it’s clear to me; not sure it is to anyone else). As always, this post could self-destruct at any time if the poet suffers a severe self-doubt meltdown.

Several Ways of Seeing Gender

A bra strap
with the shoulders
of her sundress, the band
black & frayed.

Strained as a noose
fastened to steel girders
on a bridge. In the pew
behind her he thinks
this is the best
she could do?

Oh what he
could do with the dress

freshly pressed
the stockings & shoes
the stance the sass
in the step well-practiced
and kept
in the closet.

does not want
to be she

although it would be
easier, although
the H, glottal
of escape, indicates
on context, on

& while the sh
of her gender
is also
voiceless, it requires

tension, hints
at secret or shame.
But also

softness. Like silk
slipped past the cleft
of an open drawer.

It’s only
a dress. It’s only
a letter. Cosmetic.
This isn’t hard
to understand.

My son is home from school
& I have to play
by the rules, my fingertips
dry & stubby as the butt
of an old cigar, the red tips
hidden & stored like the bodies
of beetles on display. Clicky
as summer cicadas.

The feminine
for now
only comes out
in pictures, too glamorous
for church
on Sunday.

It isn’t just gender
that gets in the way,
it’s preference. Taste.

who desires elegance nowadays

I am
this dress
& those

that pose
in that photo
the lighting
just so
the drape & slit
of skirt against thigh –

she says it isn’t fair
when a man
has better legs
than a woman

& oh what he
could do if he
were she. He does not want
to be she

but he would do
the best she/he could do
if he could wear that dress
to church one Sunday.