Graphic by Kelly (She/Her)
I’m in a department store trying on clothes
and they all fit in the technical sense,
not too tight and in colors that make my eyes pop
and my mother tells me I look beautiful,
so why does it feel like I’m wearing someone else’s skin?
Why does this fabric feel like a costume,
like my shabby artist’s interpretation of femininity?
And not a Picasso or a Van Gogh,
but femininity like you would see in a motel,
or thrown out a window in the angry outburst of a creator.
I leave with an off-the-shoulder sleek black dress and it’s pretty,
but only in the literal sense
and I wonder
Did I ever really leave?
Because the binder is too tight but the sports bra is too revealing
and I use a different name on online forums and when ordering coffee
but can’t bring myself to speak it aloud
So what now?
Every other day for a second I think I see clarity,
an answer like beams of sun shining through the clouds to form a rainbow,
but I just as quickly realize it’s just my father with a hose on the mist setting
in the backyard of my childhood home.
Author: Emma Blakely (They/She/He)
Artist: Kelly Doherty (She/Her)