Andrew Slattery – Crossdress

Andrew Slattery


Night is cover for a bowl of bruised apricots.
Outside this house I’d be clocked in two seconds flat—
the slicks, thicks and circé de cliques, they know all
there is to know about sorcery, rayons and filling
wild pores with green melon.

I can turn my face from white bread to taffeta
it’s a bolster of skills beyond any magic—nick
yourself shaving and the foundation will make it itch,
but there’ll always be a wary tint below the skin
as if a pin whale were about to surface.

Underwear is paramount—fix the gaffs
and paddings to create or conceal bumps;
hoist the teal gown to my shoulder case
’til it tugs, clumps and I am something of a design,
puffing with layers like the Arctic glaucos gull.

The curtain blows out and the sky is a rack of stars.
Is there enough of a dignity here to excuse the flaws?
Were some strange mutation of the age to fit me
in the finest brocade of gold threaded yellow-red
damask with gold (or green-gold; with river pearls

sewn into the liners and herringboned like the hind
of the mythic deer), then I’d peddle my secret
from behind the split stitch of a laidwork podea,
across ballroom floors of Petersburg, in the arms
of Anastasis, or St. Maxim the Confessor, their straps

lit with a cloister of baubled white stoles. It’s quiet
here in the house—there’s always a strange calm
and anticipation as I roll up the pennyroyal stockings,
the black wig, and finish my lips in carmine. Between
the skin of an orange and its flesh is only a usual silence.

return to SHAMPOO 26