When my son says I’m a girl and a boy,

I’m sitting here pressing on the bump of my nose. My nose—
I keep meaning to figure out which way I need to tilt my head
in photographs, so as not to be photographed
with this bump on my nose.
I can’t remember to care long enough, though,
to figure out which angle exactly minimizes
or maximizes my just-so. I feel embarrassed
when I see myself in a picture, but I don’t feel embarrassed
when I look in the mirror. Hello, wild thing,
I say; I see you’re going with wet bed-head again today.
Thumbs up. Now let’s get this party started. I think people
are generally generous toward my presentation.
Actually, I think they don’t care. Actually I think they care
about a lot of things. My hair, yes, I know,
it has never looked more like a pair
of cocker spaniel ears, swinging to and fro
in under-washed clumps. Self-deprecation
can be really satisfying. You don’t need to tell me I’m not
“that bad.” Do you feel frustrated, reader,
by my lack of attendance to my son’s early awareness
of the spectrum of gender, the body’s ability to be both?
Do you want me to say something to him?
My mom has suggested that I organize a get-together
with some of my daughter’s friends and their moms.
All the moms could wear their old prom dresses, she says.
My daughter would love it if I wore my prom dress
to the park. Actually, a few years ago
she would’ve loved it. Now, I think,
she accepts my disappointing preference for pants
and my sea-green vest over everything,
nine months a year. It’s nearly always vest season,
I say, with a little jazz hands. I’ll never wear a prom dress
to the coffee shop or to the grocery for her, though
if my son is her, I will do it, I will do it for him.

*

Ellen Welcker’s second collection, RAM HANDS, is forthcoming in fall 2017 from Scablands Books. Her first book, The Botanical Garden, was selected by Eleni Sikelianos for the 2009 Astrophil Poetry Prize (Astrophil, 2010). She lives in Spokane, WA.

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