Hammered Gold

Originally performed for The Femme Show in 2015 as a longer monologue titled “Pink Corduroys”, this is the shorter version.

1983

Gender is not mine. 

I don’t know the word gay 

I only know what it’s like to grow up in central Maine. 

My mother brings me to the hairdresser.

Her name is Sally.

Long nails tapping on the gun, 

She pierces my ears. 

They give me an orange lollipop to suck on

The piercings hurt and

A quiet lingering happens now

From the adult men, mostly my father and his friends

They drink scotch with maraschino cherries

They call me Shirley Temple

My grandmother says: “You, be thankful.”

Her heavy, gold earrings have stretched out her lobes

My earlobes become infected. 

The skin closes up around the puncture

I want more orange candy, I think.

It tastes like Fruit Loops, like warm Orange Crush soda

1993

The pinkish corduroys are my favorite 

I’m spending Christmas in Florida at my grandmother’s condo

(All grandmothers from Maine eventually move to Florida)

I refuse to wear anything but the heavy corduroys and a sweatshirt with a moose on it

This is my quiet protest to spending Christmas here. 

My cords and I, we don’t know anyone who is gay yet, 

but I imagine the gay men in Florida

Acting like thin flamingos

I open the Christmas gift from “SANTA”, written in all caps

My mother is still disguising her handwriting

The small box opens to sparkling gold hoop-earrings

They forgot

I haven’t worn earrings in ten years

I say “Thank you.” 

2003

A renaissance framES

The mirror tucked away in a private dressing room,

I’m in a store, downtown

The fuchsia flare skirt with delicate stitching

I move the lace trim between fingers 

It feels like the first time I fell in love with another girl

But I don’t know how to be a skirt-wearing lesbian

Doesn’t that make me straight?

“Traitor,” I hear them saying.

I swallow.

I take the skirt to the counter to pay 

Like holding onto a secret

I ask for a bag to hide it in

Inside the glass counter, I see hammered metal

Gold earrings, so delicate

I could get them re-pierced, I think.

I buy them.

I say to the clerk, Thank you.

2013

My daughter

Wants me to put on another tutu and play princess with her.

I don’t want to. 

I’m tired. 

We compromise on a fascinator 

I’m a magical kitchen fairy. 

She wants to get her ears pierced

Something innately feminine is in her

But I don’t assume she’s straight

I rub her back and watch her fall asleep

And I hope she’ll fall in love one day with a butch

That treats her well 

 

I can feel her tiny sibling growing inside me

The fetus from the donor cell

The non-binary baby that will be born into queerness

I lean my head to one side 

Unclasp my gold hoop earrings

Right ear and then left 

Less energy to indulge in femininity

But it’s still always there

In the simple gestures and 

Small, golden tokens

Those bits of hammered metal