from The Year of the Femme

Someone said a journey starts with voice. I grew up swimming in a slow-moving river, in words like sister and girls. I knew a waist was supposed to be soft, knew when it should be covered, when revealed. Now I move through terminals, other places move through me, other words. I follow a sign, I refuse to neaten the disorder. Each object is assigned a role, a gender. Eye shadow. Boxers. Musk. Bruise.

The pleasure he said   /   Finding one’s way

In a new body   /   My star anise

My amber, powder   /   His eyes I painted

Touched his wrist   /   Felt a pulse

There   /   (I felt her pulse


Your heart is beating, yes, despite your scars. Here is a recorded scent. Tell me, we say to each other. Say there will be sunlight. In public I wear lipstick the color of rust. I tell you about my sexual fantasies. How I’m a man in them. How it’s been this way for as long as I remember. Your body is wrapped in ribbons of water. I remove my tie. I could cover your body with mine. I could make it warm. Don’t go under.

Passing windows   /   Am I in that frame

Your first skirt   /   Blossoming

A name’s transparence   /   Fluorescent lights

The ringing knocks   /   The wind out of me

Could I breathe where   /   (A carved ankle


A warm day in May waits on the other side of the sun. It’s several years earlier. Some buildings haven’t been built. I think you were a woman even then, but the face was blurred. Someone spoke with your mouth. Someone spoke with my mouth. The word spectrum becomes an obtuse angle, temporal. You say your voice is deeper than how you imagine it. Lately, if mine is recorded, no sound plays back.

The café   /   The balcony upstairs

Could see past   /   The monkey puzzle tree

Its green fish bones   /   Waxy scales

We the thick   /   Buds in the park

The far mountains   /   (The past—