Trust a Femme

Originally performed for The Femme Show, 2018

 

i. Not a Love Poem

You and I were always a love poem

Palms and lines intertwined

Background

To the sounds of people whispering, Is that a boy or a girl?

 

Your genderqueer heart was

Bruised like eyes from that poor excuse for a man

My genderqueer heart

Held you crying

Unfolding into Femme arms

Threads

Unravelling into the beautiful man you were meant to be

The man they never would let you be

But femmes?

We see you, we see

And so naturally, you and I

We made that kickstarter account

To fund your surgery

 

ii. The Straight Girl

But this is not a love poem

This is not Keats or Whitman.

Last I heard,

You were happily ever after

Fully transitioned,

Dating some straight girl

I heard, you even finished your MFA

Got a job at Whole Foods

But this is not a revenge poem

 

Not a story of love lost

The next stanza is not about how I saw you

Walking hand in hand with her

Your new girlfriend.

 

I froze, like a small mammal

The two of you, oblivious birds

She laughed at your jokes playfully,

Flipped her hair, and tapped her heels in adoration

I’m happy for you, no really, I am,
What a beautiful, blonde, sun-lit, straight-lined sonnet you have there

 

iii. FEMME INVISIBILITY

Then

The lighting changed

She leaned into you in this kind of way

Touched your chest in this kind of way

Fabric falling from her forearm revealing a sleeve of tattoos

I squinted my eyes.

Peculiar lettering on her handbag

Hand-stitched letters on leather

T and R and U and S and T

Trust a Femme.

It read.

With a silent E

Quietly seeking comradery

 

A stone dropped into the pit of my stomach.

Suddenly

White spaces and blank paper all around me

Typewriter broken

Serifs slid from the stanzas

Onto the floor

Dropping like dead insects onto the hardwood floor

 

I had no choice but to turn the page

She is no straight-lined sonnet,

I had just done to her, what so many have done to me

 

iv. Seeking Connection

Femmes

We ares complex stories

Often mistaken at first glance

 

I flip the page to a feminist poem because

I am pulled in her direction,

Has she too, felt the aching?

The yearning to be seen?

Has she too, held him crying?

Held space for his rage, fear; his pride?

Held space, invisibly

For all letters, LGBT

Femme invisibility

Running fingers through female masculinity

While holding steady to our own gender identity

 

v. Image of a Femme

But how do we define Femme?

 

I imagine her sitting on a lavender couch with Oscar Wilde

He has a flower in his pocket and writes poetry

Her pen is a needle

Piercing through the taught fabric like a page

Pulling the floss through again and again

It was her grandma that taught her, how to separate

The threads,

How to back-stitch,

And dot the I’s with french knots.

 

vi. Our Lover’s Hands Are Dry

Femmes

We are complex stories

Palms and lines intertwined in history

Like lovers

Like not for you lovers, but

Lovers

Like lovers for us lovers

Like Sappho’s lovers

Like Sappho’s poetry

Ancestors of antiquity

Eclipsed always by masculinity,

Made into that stupid femme fatale stock characters, but

Reclaimed, finally

With words and poetry

Thank you

Audre Lorde

Adrienne Rich

Maya Angelou

 

Femmes.

Reclaimed finally by the sweat of our labor

Reclaimed by our hands

Reclaimed finally

By cooking food for our Family

Tucking the kids into bed

And when everyone’s sleeping

We brew revolution, instead

We sew buttons to their collared shirts

Hand-wash boxers, binders in co-op sinks

We clean the sutures that free hearts and chests

All with pride!

 

But our trust is in our hands and

Our hands are dry

 

vii. The Repetition

Of course I want to trust a femme

Of course I want to hear the caged bird sing

But we are trained to distrust each other

To not see each other

To draw hard lines in the sand

Black and white lines

The alliteration is horizontal hostility,

The repetition is

Sexism

Racism

Homophobia

Three distinct vertices of an upside down love triangle

The simile is made of stone and

The simile is distrust

Hardened like stones

Like stone butches relinquishing femininity

Like our trans men stuck in that damn binary

We can’t be a man and a woman too, no!

We can’t transcend the power of two

“That’s why he chose surgery”

I thought to myself, in that moment, but I was hurt

And broken

Another stone droped into the pit of my stomach

And he kisses her head adoringly and

The stones pile up in me

It’s not jealousy, exactly,

It’s distrust.

 

viii. The Simile

How do we conjure trust?

(Because we need it more than ever now)

 

I imagine the three of us in Greenwich Village

It’s 1969 at the Stonewall Inn

The song plays a secret code
But before we can escape

Bright lights and police

White police, like white houses

Lining us up in rows

Assaulting us against walls

Femmes: we are the ladies they could never put their hands on

Consensually

No, we belonged to their worst nightmares

We belonged to our

Butches and trans men, still today, the manifestations of their fears because

White police are always like white houses

Lining us up in rows

And then that one night in June, we finally had enough

It was just like any other night, except

Finally, we had enough

Distrust

They heard us sing across the country

Finally, we held hands

Palms and lines intertwined

And the birds were set free, dipping wings in orange sky

 

ix. Trust a Femme

Trust a Femme.

There’s still no need for punctuation

When it’s written in embroidery

Pulled through pages of history

Golden thread

Sunlight

So bright

But this time I stop squinting

And open wide

Open doors to birds free

Letting the song of freedom carry comradery

 

x. Time to Trust

This is a Femme poem.

To that Femme who sat with needle and thread

To our allies, in solidarity

And to her boyfriend, not mine instead

I am listening now

Are you listening too?

I am listening, finally

Stones will topple, crush, and disintegrate

Because I,

Now trust in you.