Sometimes I think my aversion to smalltalk is beginning to empty my life, as though there is a social reinforcer that I keep missing when I laugh politely, not knowing what’s airy enough to say and wanting to ask something like, “Do you ever feel like sunlight on glass?” and cringe inwardly at the bizarre looks. When I say I miss you it means there is a graveyard and bats and a violin, and each string is an empty voice asking empty questions like nice weather isn’t it? is that a new hairstyle?
It isn’t new sometimes I just wear it because there are perplexities orbiting my hair, planetary systems of paradoxes. These high heel stilettos are funeral shoes because I love them but it’s been too many centuries and I’ve forgotten if I love them or if I only love them because you love them, kind of like believing red is my favorite color and then years later reading that you’re attracted to red and wondering in paranoia if I’ve been conditioned, like touching jellyfish. When you ask me aren’t I a radfem I am bitterly thinking I’m whatever you’ve made me to be, Pygmalion, as I blink away tears and you say, I guess the basis of that answer means you are–so what’s with the mascara?
I say with lovestruck anguish, it keeps me from seeing beautiful transparent rainbow molecules between my lashes. And you scowl, I wish you wouldn’t do that to yourself.
Yesterday there was a tree at my window knocking to be let in. I traced over the architecture of my bones and took the laundry out and taught myself to fix the car and I read the books you love as a woman walked by the window with her skirt flowing behind her like a trail of broken verbs in the past tense. And I wished I had told you that mascara is like standing on a hill looking down at city lights with the oxygen escaping you and you’re realizing that they are masking the beauty of the stars they imitate–the ones that inspire them–but you’re unable to stop yourself from admiring this
artificial beauty. It’s like that, you know? Being only human. I just want to be part of the universe. But I’m terrible at smalltalk so I tried to tell you about the documentary I saw instead, because it’s not so strange when I say it isn’t mine.
Is anything real?
You can’t reclaim femininity because you’ve never defined it, said the radfems, the patriarchy did. Scissors hung from a doorknob, days powdery like the powder you apply to your face. I say, it’s gunpowder. They say, how do you know that soft black coat is feminine, womanly? Well I don’t care because I move my nails beneath the thread that is coming undone at the seams just a little bit, coming undone like me. To what standard do you strive, but that set by men to say that masculinity is the ideal to which all women should aspire? Let women define what it is to be a lady, strength and fearlessness and love. Let us be who we are, manly women and womanly women and womanly men and manly men. This is to remind us whatever is feminine is of equal worth, not to be abandoned. Say the word orgasm and smile crookedly when it reminds you of rooms in July.
Satirists and the patriarchy scoff and say, nowadays everything is female empowerment. And I want to scream, And does that tell you nothing?
[This is now a published piece and may be removed.]