Update on HIM from Powerpuff Girls

Of course I fangirled seeing HIM
work at a coffee shop on Wilshire. Can’t say
I wasn’t gawking at this misfit Mephistopheles,
idol of my odd-duck childhood. Their pink tulle
scrunched beneath a khaki apron, thigh-highs
swapped for tennis shoes. I tried to play it cool
in line but HIM kept chipping mugs and flubbing
orders, popped an oat milk carton with their claw.
People snickered, mimicked their falsetto
walking to the sugar station. HIM reminded me
of me: of something queer and clumsy that
attracted too much notice. A target on two fronts.
Reminded me of guessing what the joke’s about
and making it a game. HIM’s beard poked through
the hairnet they wore. They shattered someone’s
lemonade and shards rained on the ground. I wanted
to help, fetch oven mitts, but thought it might be patronizing.
I wanted to repay their showing how to layer crimson, strut
maniacally, craft gender out of points and curves. I feared
distracting them. HIM spilled espresso and it
got on someone’s pants. They kept apologizing,
same as when I asked my boss to use my new name
and he wouldn’t. The sorry added to my hands.
I tried to make it easy for them by getting bottled juice. Tried not
to stare, made small-talk about muffins, which worked
until I almost walked off without paying. HIM laughed
at least. I went back hoping I would see them there
but didn’t. I hoped HIM wasn’t fired. I swear I saw
them once while exiting the parking lot, their salmon
ruffle peeked out of a black parka. That’s enough
for me to know, I think—it’s enough to know they’re there.

Why I Waited to Transition

hovers between dream and memory, denial and forced confession. The truth is no one
said the other women carry what I can’t. Put a fence between my gender and my need to
go unnoticed. The pleather boots and bag, the kill-wet lips were mine, a queen’s regalia.
Still I let each lover carve a dead name in me. Let pronouns jelly-glop across my dress
and never showed vexation. My skin tensed to the pull of others, I completed a recursive
script. Fusible to anything and fuckable to anyone. I lived inside the downbeat of
dropping pennies. Lived as tactical retreat. Because my mother said I can’t miss what’s
never given. Because I couldn’t find the mass to make my bones. I was this until I found
unforgiveness, became a twisted shape that couldn’t compromise, grew a shell no one
could shuck. Until I maddened with a testimony that left nowhere to hide.

CD Eskilson is a trans poet from Los Angeles. Their work appears or is forthcoming in Pleiades, the Washington Square Review, the minnesota review, and Redivider, among others. CD is poetry editor for Exposition Review. They are an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas.