30 years ago … a group of boys were looking through a box of hand-me-downs and dared one boy to try on one of the skirts. He wasn’t the first boy to learn how Permission is the Narnian wardrobe into Possibility.
15 years ago … a man got married and inherited a closet full of woman’s clothes that weren’t his. He wasn’t the first husband without Permission. Nor the first to carefully hang his Shame on the hanger with each dress.
One year, that man’s journey wept into this poem.
Wanting to look like all the women,
the ones from the ads,
I shave off
all the stress.
I shimmy into the red and black skirt
that tugs a bit around my hips
and zip me up inside.
Snapping the bra in front of me
and spinning it around into place,
I insert my arms into the straps
and look myself up and down in the mirror.
I button the top,
tight-pressed against the two sides
of my spirit
that I make larger after I’m done buttoning.
‘What if I had surgery?’
I suck in my gut and
turn sideways to view my profile.
I’ve missed the exercise lately.
My face is smooth but blemished,
a light flesh.
I apply changes, improvements, to my femininity,
foundation, new skin, colored lips, shaded eyes
Maybe it will hide what I don’t want seen
but set free what I want to see.
I think I am close
what I’ve wanted
I only have a few more minutes.
Time is so short.
It’s shameful of me
to be in a hurry,
to want to look like all the other women,
to feel like them,
to feel like me, like them.
It’s more than I think.
Downstairs, the garage door grinds open.
I need to un-Cinderella
and put all her clothes away
just as I found them
and wash my face.
If only this me had
My wife can never
Because sometimes I’ve gotta get outside myself to see myself. Artistic therapy.
I realized that initially, Hope was all about the clothes and the process. But recently, as I’ve been exploring what my femininity means in me, it has become the magical wardrobe into the other side of myself, the timeless world beside my world that has been there all along.
Zero years ago … I took mysel(ves) into the world to meet each other’s war(drobes), to learn each other, to feel each other, teach each other … kiss each other. My male and female are learning to hug, to freshen their lipstick before throwing the axe. Dancing within and dancing without.
And those famous words “It is not good that man be alone” are never more true than when I don a dress and heels. I no longer want to keep myself to myself by myself for myself. I need them as much as I need me. I see death knocking at the door of life and need my friends there. My wife there. My life there. Because my whole is not whole without them without me.
Now the clothes are “…tight-pressed against the two sides of my spirit that I make larger…” The double meanings and the allusion to the Native American idea of two-spirit help me soar toward embracing both sides of my same self … of squeezing together instead of squeezing out … the tight squeeze on my soul.
The same soul that longs to grow larger.
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