The Book of Bella: Canta 6

I-bella tried to whisper to her
to make me—I mean—to
make herself up in my image

seeping out the edges
movie magic blood leaking from
the corners of her mouth her eyes

Zack stooped to pick up
crates of milk, to stack chairs,
to sweep and mop Café Bohemia-was

to read books like The Alphabet
Versus the Goddess, came to believe
that women first got the hint

from their bleeding, inventing
time-keeping. Zack was slow, stunted
emotional growth smoking and

pretending not to be in the habit
of hiding (she learned it from me) actually
she developed it because of me-

bella, earlier form of me-
Zoe, femme principal. Visit
the reproductive endocrinologist

to try to make a baby and he
keeps gesturing to my partner,
saying, "the female" this,

"the female" that. At the time
that bella was the female in me
waiting to be born as me,

that is, in Texas, I could only
get close enough to press my
body lustily against the pane

glass of Female. A book about
a butterfly girl in Book Woman—
Luna? Or a moth woman, pure

as moonlight or ultra-pasteurized
milk from the jug. Who had
known since birth, whose ways

had always been feminine. As
for me it never would have occurred
to me. Gender was and I

completed the assignment.
Wasn't I good? Wasn't I guy?
Couldn't catch a fly

ball but good enough for
primogeniture. Pressing my body
lustily against the pane

glass of your female body
asking it frantically to be a mirror,
like "I'll be…" sang Nico,

now known  to be as problematic
as anyone famous is, opening her
mouth to leak bilious anti-

blackness. Grammar and
gender two shared systems
of meaning-making often proscriptive.

Billie plays in your family's
white station wagon frozen
in an album cover with

a white gardenia in her hair
which you are parking in the
central Texas evening's golden

for lack of a better world
corona. If I could love you
and you me we could become

one (I) merging seemed to me
the closest I could get what I
reckoned the ineffable

center of woman and
the only medicine for the
loneliness of having been

born. At this time
or now I could be fired,
stuck in a prison for men

lose parental rights etc.
Writing from liberal MA where
some cry reverse this and that

thinking how lucky she-Zoe
is to be trans and queer forgetting
that the Lady of Misrule's

reign ends when the revelers
return to their homes and sleep
and dream and break the day

again. To work! Under
the sun's watchful etc. My
parents streets away.

My sisters. And all of us
Airport Boulevardiers. Ope'
the screen door at Tamale

House. Okay I'm spacing
out. I want to write the word
"picayune." Temperature-change

 headache. A resistant
material like fimo clay when
you're 8. I was hard to form

in the shape of a student,
resistant like today when I
ask for a favor,

I say, "At your leisure"
Or Ella singing "Lullaby of
Birdland" that song has

always bugged me. Why?
Le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea
or if you'd like Mickey Mouse

as the sorcerer's apprentice.
Yes that's it. Unfit to be a student
I became an apprentice.

Impatience baked into the role!
Inevitable. Part and parcel as they say
who? I-Zoe says old lady things.

World history class unit on
China learn about Wang Mang
"the usurper" first time I

really heard the word.
Impatience. Desire to arrive.
Desire to be bonafide, authorized,

the mantle conferred. i've been
writing this story, riding this
horse down Airport Blvd

at sunset, it's strewn with
gladiolas. Bouncing like a pinball
in a machine I-Zack played

waiting at the Airport with
her dad. I was good at waiting.
No I wasn't. I threw tantrums,

jumped from job to job,
love to love, investing in an
avatar I longed to discard

(Impossible!) took out the
anger I had for my inability
to live authentically on any

hapless citizens who dared
to leave Uruk for the bordering
forests of cedar which were

my rightful home to squat as
entered-apprentice in the League
of the Liminal. I'd send Humbaba,

Bull of Heaven, to gore them.
Drowning in stickysweet liquors
of an age to pass among them

the students whose diligence
and lack of imagination paid great
dividends of belonging.

Limestone cladding everything
around me, and the sensibly rumpled
skin of the Live Oak, its parsimonious greens.