Shut Your Mouth and Listen
Don’t steal my lipstick from my purse and rub it on your lips like a girl, saying lies about chapped lips; I don’t need your stuff now I got my own money, got a phone too; when you come home from school, put your uniform in the hamper; the art teacher pays me to pose, Mama, sketches me in charcoal; put on a clean teeshirt and jeans, don’t wear my pink robe ever, my nose can find your sissy smell on my clothes; teacher calls me his angel, his paradise, calls me Adonis; when you use the toilet remember do your business quick and don’t be lingering, your head in some book of paintings; teacher says God sent me to him; when your father visits this weekend, don’t let him see you walk like a girl, sit with your back straight; when I put my clothes back on and I sing, the art teacher says my voice makes the heavens weep; don’t give your father anything to eat or drink, not a crumb, not a sip of water; Papa says I can visit New York anytime; you’ll grow up like your father, running with strange men; I’m moving to New York City, soon as I’m 18; you won’t be like him, not as long as I breathe, remember I can see into your soul no matter what you try and hide; Papa says you know about me, Mama, he says you’ve always known.
Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. Her work appears in Rattle, The New York Times, Cultural Weekly, Best Microfiction, and Best Small Fictions. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland with her husband Frank Stella. Follow her on twitter @shortpoemz.