Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gender Question #2 by Jennifer Perrine

This remarkable poem by one Jennifer Perrine just won the Goodreads monthly poetry contest. What an exploration of imaginative flights spurred by language! A poet definitely worth watching...

Gender Question #2: Butch, Femme, Androgynous, or All Over the Map?
by Jennifer Perrine

Marking the small check in the small box,
I think: there is no appropriate answer here,
except perhaps Artichoke, impenetrable, thick-petaled
flower, sharp edge and ragged root. Inside,
velvet opal translucent tongues, and inside,
further still, the choke, silky threads who want
to hold in the heart, to raise a spired fortress
for the tender green. This, though, is not an option,

so I choose, All over the map, all over Barbados,
Siam, Constantinople, all over Ireland and Israel,
all over the sierra of my stomach, down the straits
of my legs, to the archipelago of toes.
Somewhere on the circuit, I stop

to visit whatever terrain bears the name Femme,
some scenic dream atop a mountain or nestled
deep within a delta. I watch tourists teem
around the attractions. I snap some shots, too,
so I'll remember what Femme looks like
once I leave. Perhaps, from there, I'll bike

to Butch, a city that sparkles like hubcaps
spun from a swift machine. Some say that there
the stars are drilled through sheets of obsidian,
pressed like grommets into hides of darkest leather.
If the iron gates to town are barred, I'll fly
first-class to Androgynous, where blades of grass glow
silver, the shade of Joan of Arc's sword,
and the sky at sunset runs red as the rouge
on Bowie's cheeks. The land shifts,
rolls and recedes like the tide, carries me out

and out, to my home, my artichoke home,
my platypus home, my webbed feet
and beak and fur. I trace again my small mark
in my small box, my small window
from which I watch landscapes reach
like frail fingers into space,
into the places we have not named.

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