how to tell an origin myth
after Terrance Hayes
The first time I shopped
for lingerie. Alone, sixteen, still
a boy. I fidgeted
pink lace. Worried the salesgirls
knew it was for me. They didn’t
ask. You couldn’t stand
my heels, falsetto, lips red
like yours. You thought
you could be so beautiful
my queer would melt
like wax. I resisted
your love, a rash. I quarantined. You
stopped. I found my femme clothes
stuffed in grocery bags
lined the porch. I packed
snowdrifts in my trunk. You
were gone when I went
to say bye. The phone never rang.
Let’s begin again. At twelve
my scabbed legs ruined
the look, my mother’s dress, but this
excited me like any dissonance. Blame
isn’t the right word, but the tongue
learns by repeating pain
the body holds. Begin with faggot.
Begin with little bitch.
Begin with dressed up
you become someone else.
I try to look sexy in fishnets,
I flutter natural lashes, 1
lie         across the bed,
beg you, take me. 2
I’m not a man 3 now, you
in control. Hold me. Our lipsticks
gloss pink each other’s cheeks. 4
1. This is twelve / hours before / you said / me en femme is a different / person, and it’s weird.
2. A week before you asked for her / to go away / more often. It / creeped you out.
3. You told me / seventeen times / that week, / man up.
4. Two weeks before you said / she disgusts you. / You reminded me you do / so much for me, / so much. I should / be thankful you ask / for so little. I should do this / one thing / in return: put her down / like a childhood toy, / like a mangy, limping cat.
Samuel Hovda was born and raised in rural Minnesota. He now attends the MA program in Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Nashville Review, Red Paint Hill, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Word Riot, among others. You can find him at SamuelHovda.com and on Twitter.