I would put a sign on my door,
but the vacancy is already filled.
So many young people with their “T”
and almost-hair on their faces.
I love these boys, these “they.”
They are bottomless pits —
pizzas and apple juice,
dysphoria and binders.
I only meant to have one,
but one is connected to the other
and the other, and it’s not that
the parents are bad,
just that it takes a long time
to turn “she” into “he.” And,
they change their names,
call the name you gave them,
“dead.” You donate the dresses
to goodwill, throw out the photos
of ponytails and purses. You say
“dead,” too, to your daughter.
It’s only six months and already,
you are saving up for the double
mastectomy. You only cry a little
now, but mostly fold the boys
underwear, pack away the pearl
bracelet, correct your family,
“she to he,” “she to he” and then
wonder why they can’t just be gay.
Leslie Anne Mcilroy won the 1997 Slipstream Poetry Chapbook Prize, the 2001 Word Press Poetry Prize and the 1997 Chicago Literary Awards. Her second book was published by Word Press in 2008, and third, by Main Street Rag in 2014. Leslie’s poems appear in Grist, Jubilat, The Mississippi Review, PANK, Pearl, Poetry Magazine, the New Ohio Review, The Chiron Review and more.