The Poetry Project

Jimena Lucero

Barbara Walters Knew I Was Trans

I was alone in my parent’s bedroom.
Their bed was queen sized with snow
-white sheets. The carpet was dirty
with particles of paper & food crumbs.

The bulky black television showed
Barbara Walters interviewing boys ::
girls. Minutes into the documentary
I found out that they weren’t girls ::
boys like my brother & my sister.

Instead, they were like me.
When they were told to behave
a certain gender, they cried
doves from their eyes.

One mother recalled her child saying
“Mom, I’m so mad at God,”
because she felt there was something
wrong with her body.
All of my soft-spoken prayers
flew by my lips. I lowered the TV's volume
with fear that someone would listen.

My mother was in the kitchen cooking
the orange rice I loved so much.
She didn’t understand English
but the body translates much of
what is unsaid.

Barbara Walters was captivating,
a detective that wanted to know why
these kids claimed to be girls :: boys.
When they had been born boys :: girls.

She called them Transgender
& I saw myself on television
being scrutinized by a professional
woman. Mrs. Walters walked into my room,
asked me questions with that lisp of hers.

Unlike those kids, I didn’t have freedom
to be myself despite the danger
that was narrated by Walters’ small lips.
The words were cautionary: surgeries,
medicine, therapists, and death.

I heard my mother’s steps.
The door opened and damp light
gleamed over my body.
I changed the channel & the smell
of her rice made me hungry again.

I followed my mother into the kitchen
barefoot. I sat at the table and played
with my food. My family never noticed
how I fell into myself. How my identity
was forming through words. I thought
of my response to Barbara’s question
about being a girl in secret. I’d say,
still a kind of power.

Sick at the Party

My friend invited me
to a party on a boring
weekend. She promised
I’d have fun
so, I couldn’t say no.
My body had become
uniquely solitary since illness –
but the excitement
in her voice pulled
my legs out of bed. I bend
towards life, in pain.
When we arrived,
Frank Ocean played.
The mood was Bach.
Don’t all partygoers attempt
to compose a paradise too?
The golden eyeshadow
of the host’s makeup
was delicately noticeable.
I was bare eyed and tired already.
A man asked me what I did
for work. I am a poet, I said.
I wanted to say, I’m a doll
you can dress and undress but feels
the same way.
Suddenly my nerves knocked
the front door, & the tingling
numbness crawled
on my face, my abdomen,
& I greeted the familiar
reality of my body.
The party couldn’t cure.
I continued talking about the
way poems made me feel,
like they are sheets of
dove wings that embrace me.
My nerves were as loud as
the voices in the party,
glamorous & spastic.
I wandered around like
a suffering white dog.
The fibers in my joints
swelled. The dark of the room
was bigger than
the lights from smiles.
The guests were gathered
in a ceremony of youth
& death. Patiently,
I waited for the ceiling to
open wide and reveal a
cicatrix in the night sky.

Issue 16