February 4, 2013

The Day I Wore a Dress


(I almost want to start this poem by repeating the title,
but merely typing the above, I know that, now, I don't have to).
Language has a way of creating,
so here I am...trying to tell you I wore
light brown loafers,
                red knee high socks,
                                a brown rayon dress with white polka dots,
                                                a simple, yet elegant necklace,
                                                                a pair of light blue sun glasses,
                                                                                and a scarf.
Marilyn Monroe incognito.

(I'd like to begin to tell you about getting up on a stage
dressed like this,
but something else was happening).
Point A from point B
and I get there the only way I know how.
Biking was just something that I did,
                a way I interfaced with the world,
                                so I climbed on board
                                                and started pedaling.
All the cars at the first block let me go...
just another beard dressed up in dress.
Nothing new to see hear,
move along.
I merged on Lead and took my bike lane down the hill,
legs pumping like they do.
A few other cars stared me down and I felt watched.
A lot of cars on an early Sunday afternoon.
I sat in the lane,
                clearly marking my way,
                                lights flashing,
                                                legs pumping,
                                                                wobbling to my left so I took up space
                                                                                that clearly belonged to me,
                                                                                                just like I usually do
as the overpass reared up.
I felt sandwiched between a concrete embankment
and a row of moving cars.

(I'd like to point out that I'm typing this right now,
so don't worry about whether I make it or not.
You can assume, because I am writing,
that I created a way for me to not become another statistic,
another "accident"
in a city built for cars).
But the dress wasn't helping much.
I was trying to be seen,
when a big part in this town
                is trying not to be visible, but still trying to be seen.
If I make it downtown without them even knowing I was there,
I'm happy.

Being alone and isolated isn't a new feeling.
Being vulnerable and in peril isn't something that someone invites uncritically.
Yet, for a few minutes,
the sensation was far from pleasant
and I had a choice.
When we try and teach tolerance,
                we're trying to create a world
                                where out of the ordinary is basically the way it is.
A man can wear a dress;
                a woman a rough cut of blue jeans;
                                or even vice versa.
But when I stepped outside, outside of what people expect to see,
I felt more than shame,
I felt alone, vulnerable, as if at any moment I could be the subject of someone else's poem,
instead of the one creating it.

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