Canyon of Heroines
This bag of crunchy Cheetos is making me thirsty. Good thing I picked up a Fanta orange soda on the way home just in case. Walking back, I couldn't help noticing how most of the neighborhood has been replaced by strange towering steel and plate glass structures. A man was lying across the sidewalk in front of one of them and asked me for money. Greece is being bullied by Germany holding it to a double standard. When they had the tickertape parade for the US Women's Soccer Team this week and said "Canyon of Heroines" on the radio I started to laugh and realized it wasn't funny. The guy at an adjacent table in the coffee shop was looking at me smokily for an hour like he wanted to do something to me all over the counter, and I sat poised anticipating an advance that never arrived. I have trans woman friends who desperately need hope and jobs and love and safety and family. I wish I could be twenty places at once and have the power to fix everything but in a stealth way so I wouldn't be just grabbing the spotlight. True Detective is a TV show that a lot of people seem to enjoy. I trained myself to speak at a higher base pitch every morning until it became quasi-permanent because that is how I know I do not depend on the medical establishment or strangers' willingness to imagine charity. Much of the street is submerged underwater due to the storm. That other salesman can assist you—I'm helping this young lady right now, he said, placing his hand on the small of my back. The entire auditorium of people staring me down was hostile but knew they couldn't show it in public except for occasional frown lines darting from between their eyebrows. Please stand clear of the closing doors. I can't breathe in this dress. I can't seem to figure out where that smell is coming from in the apartment. Gender identity or expression will not protect you from being fired in most employment situations nor does being a transsexual. Split a capsule of medication into smaller doses by opening, dividing, and mixing it among separate containers of a mushy food like applesauce. The Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed this week amid much controversy. Did I just write all that? History is transmisogynistic but it won't be the more of it there is. The beautiful woman suggested I put my bare legs across her lap in the dark so I did and she gently ran her fingers along them. Wheat germ is where the problems all started. Later you asked if you could put your arm around me on the train but there was a scary guy shouting at everyone in the subway car and I didn't want to provoke him. People I love are at risk of being violently harmed or murdered every day, or they suffer from suicidal urges because of how the world fails to see us as people in a million sharp pointy little ways. Welcome to the military. The three-panel dressing room mirror had a Busby Berkeley effect which gave me a little thrill but I might have just imagined it. I wish I knew how to code things with boolean operators. I wish I knew how to read philosophy. The x-ray machine operator kept repeating "STOP BREATHING NOW DON'T BREATHE" each time he activated the machine. #CaitlynJenner
Copyright © 2016 Trace Peterson. Used with permission of the author.
Trace Peterson is a poet and literary scholar. Her first book of poems, Since I Moved In, was reissued by Chax Press in a revised edition in 2019 with an Introduction by Joy Ladin. Peterson is the founding editor and publisher of EOAGH, a small press and literary journal which has won a National Jewish Book Award and two Lambda Literary Awards, including the first Lammy given in transgender poetry. She is co-editor of the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2013), and of Arrive on Wave: Collected Poems of Gil Ott (Chax Press, 2016). She has taught at Yale University, Hunter College, the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa, and The Poetry Project, among other places. Previously the N.E.H. Post-Doctoral Fellow in Poetics at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University, Peterson is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at UCONN, Storrs.
Date Published: 2016-03-07
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/canyon-heroines