March 8, 2021

Sarah P. Strong


I smooth it down my shirtfront 
between my breasts. That little hiss 
a catcall almost, but one 
I make for myself, the drag 
and give of silk, the thrill 
of the display like what a man 
I dated told me once: the reason 
for lipstick, he said, is 
to make a proxy cunt of the mouth, 
since humans are the only animals 
to hide their genitals with clothes. 
He was putting on lipstick as he said this,
becoming a woman as I watched 
from my perch on his bed. Now 
I walk down the street in my tie
and things happen, not only to
the swing of my shoulders, the lope 
of my hips. Women comment, the men 
look away. I don’t know that ex-
lover anymore, can’t ask him 
what I long to ask him: if he ever wanted, 
when he was through using it, 
to unknot the silk of his cock
and let someone else slip it on, 
this thing that was part of him but not 
in the way we’d thought, 
as the red of his mouth became 
the red of my mouth 
when we kissed hard enough.

from Rattle #70, Winter 2020


Sarah P. Strong: “Sometimes I write poetry just to figure out what the hell is going on—a truth can sneak into a poem before I’m aware of it anywhere else. When I look at the poem ‘My Tie’ now, it’s clear to me that it was a step toward claiming a nonbinary identity and they/them pronouns as my own.” (web)

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