Vacuum

Not a heavy weight, more like

carrying around the five extra

pounds from the holidays all year.

Or maybe more like something one

picks up and sets down repeatedly,

like a little screaming baby, rattling

the nerves; one that is never

comforted and never grows up.

Or maybe slightly more weight that

one takes up every several days,

much like the weight of that heavy

vacuum you took from your

Mami’s house. Too unwieldy for

me to use, I say, but you oppose

discarding it. The carpets fill with

fur and dust bunnies take permanent

residence in the corners and beneath

the keyboard no one ever plays.

Thinking to lighten the air, I buy my

own vacuum, bid adieu to those

cute, mini tumbleweeds and groom the

carpet. Still, this weight. It’s most like

the way you look at me, wishing.

Transgendered Ex at Son’s Birthday Party

I think to change into a t-shirt,

            something in which I can chase kids with water guns,

                        something that disregards cleavage and shoulder.

You arrive in a pretty little dress.

            It’s edgy, a sweetheart neckline

                        white with black trim and little crickets and bees perched about.

And those legs, the sort I’ve always wanted — long and lean.

            Why do boys always have the best legs?

                        No saddlebags or cellulite, but smooth exclamation points.

Your legs point up beyond the flared skirt to your new chest that I don’t recognize.

            I adjust my shirt, the one I will not change out of, the one that is not unisex.

            And I reapply my colored lip balm, the same as yours, I gave you last Winter.

I give you a hug and you feel dewy, like a woman glistening.

Never before good at forgetting, I cannot now remember what it was like to be yours.

I hesitate when introducing myself as his mom, with a glance towards you.

            I see your mascara as a challenge and think that I should accent my eyes more.

                        More feminine and brave, I see you as a Goddess, as supernatural as real.

I wish I kept that man I met after you left, the one with the linear thoughts

            who told me that women are from Venus and I talk too much.

                        But only briefly, just to have someone to steady me for a moment.

I avert my eyes as you bend to pick up a candle, a shock of electric blue peeking out.

            I imagine the men I might meet — Tom with the spiky beard that might rub

                        a rash on my face when we kiss. Glenn who rides a motorcycle.

You embrace your son and it looks like a parent holding birthday wishes close to the boy.

No change can render that image unforgettable and for a moment again I am yours.

Kristin Kowalski Ferragut is a regular contributor to open mics, at such venues as DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry and Roots Studio. She has been the featured poet at Words Out Loud at Glen Echo and participates in local poetry and prose writing workshops, in addition to reading, hiking, teaching, and enjoying time with her children. Her work has appeared in Beltway Quarterly, Mercurial Stories and Nightingale and Sparrow.

Image by C. Praetorius Internet Archive Book Images – https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14782871155/Source book page: https://archive.org/stream/womenofallnation04joyc/womenofallnation04joyc#page/n70/mode/1up, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43935855

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