We joke about the CUNY tax: I suck breath into my belly like I’ve been taught. We joke, that! That right there is the CUNY tax.
What we have to go through to survive: the knowing you will likely be alone and the glee when you aren’t; the immediate exchange of contact info, for we are desperate for this, for conciliatory kinship, a kindred, a kin.
It is not even the fault of CUNY; the depth it goes to in each of us, the harm caused, the way people gaze at you with pity: that could have been me // that was me // that is me
How did I escape to be unapologetic like this? I see my mentors as unapologetic, as untouchable, but how much garbled public iconography am I bringing in?
I see everything like this: a mirror, a face turned towards me gentle, gentle
I look for myself in you: it is important that I see myself in you. I want you to know I will make space for you in me
“Femme AF: Femme Spoken & Written Rhetorics”
VIDEO INTERVIEWS –> *femme testimonial*
- Interview questions
- How has identifying as femme affected your language?; can you give a specific example?
- How do you interact with other femmes? Femmes you’re close to; femmes you don’t know?
- How do you interact with non-femme people you don’t know?
- Can you tell if someone’s femme by looking at them? How? Why/why not?
- What does ‘femme’ mean for your personal style?
- Can you give me an example of a typical outfit? What do you wear to a queer event? A “professional” event?
Stone Femme Blues
The first day I wear platform shoes, I fall down walking to the train. I am always thinking about this: how my body can’t take another fall; brittle at 27, drained. My plastic flat form sandals squeak as I walk, and the sole catches on a patch of uneven sidewalk. It doesn’t even register that I am falling until I drop my cane and my knees hit concrete, my voluminous skirt pillowing out above my compression socks. Skin. Sidewalk. I am 10 yards from my train stop and everyone has seen me fall. I scurry to my feet and hurry underground, my knees stinging, my palms shaking from the impact.
At work, my wisdom teeth hurt so much. I don’t have a prescription for painkillers but I probably should, the way my face feels like a stone wall sinking, how my shoulders are stone, my throat rimmed with stone, heavier and harder all the time.
Last night, the skin beneath my tits, the top of my stomach, was so tight, I couldn’t breathe. The smaller, newer of our two cats was sneezing a lot and I rolled out of bed to check on her, get her fresh water. As I knelt down to run their ears, it felt like I had been stabbed under my left breast, between my ribs. I gasped, stunned, like I’d been punched, my solar plexus frozen in a spasm.
At the edge of your map, you crimp into singular unit, developing spine, blossoming brave: leap into air, youngling, and trickle down, a leaf clamoring against gravity.
not give up.