- From The Doctor
The women come to me as men or the men come to me as women. They speak with disdain about their bodies, claim they aren’t theirs, call life a cruel joke, ask if I can set things straight. Some are transgender, others intersexual, some with ambiguous genitalia, all with gender dysphoria.
Who am I, once again, to ignore compassion’s call? I tend to them all, and not without some cost to my reputation. Notoriety, infamy, scorn — some accuse me of selling my soul to the devil, of pulling a Dr. Faustus, of disobeying God’s will. They pin me like a boxer against the ropes. The Bible Belt has its cold flat landscapes.
. . .
The Country Club with its Gatsbys and Manhattans and old fashioneds and houndstooth jackets and Cuban cigars and studied poses and laughter and looks and judgments. Its insults and moonlights and fistfights and hangovers and pool parties and birthday parties and themed dinner parties and its Andes mint chocolates and bBeaux aArts balls and debutantes and privilege.
I am at the bar working on tomorrow’s hangover. I am the son of a farmer. My father is gone. I am not a farmer’s son. I am just a farmer’s son. [End Page 53]
. . .
One summer I coached my son’s t-ball team. Before the season began I imagined once a week at the park with all the best drills I would turn those boys down the road to manhood and that leading them would be my son, my flesh and blood. But once practice began, the kids had other plans, they walked when I told them to run, they sat in the outfield when I needed them to stand. One evening my son refused to chase after fly balls, saying there were crickets in the field he didn’t want to crush. The other boys were laughing, I was losing control of them. Where’s the cricket, I yelled. My son pointed to the ground. I ran over and stomped down again and again. “The cricket’s dead!” I yelled. The boys stared. “The cricket’s dead!” My son cried.
. . .
My wife pours another glass, says I told you so, says you don’t mess with nature. What a lovely mess she is, sinking into the couch like a polished stone. A stone with a finger that wags indignantly, constantly. Her face, all pursed lips and pinched brows, the face of my second wife and my first and that of every woman I’ve ever loved — why are they still so inscrutable to me?
They don’t need me like a patient does. Or rather their need is not so transparent, more veiled, buried deeper. Secreted behind layer after layer of carefully [End Page 54] manufactured, manicured nonchalance or chalance, or defiance, or indifference, or whatever. If there’s truth there, it can’t be seen. They are transvestites of emotion. Ah, fuck it. I’m stuck with my own imperfect way of knowing. My epistemology’s all wrong. If the wind blows, I perceive doldrums. If the day is short, I sense it’s long. [End Page 55]
Chad Reynolds is the author of three poetry chapbooks, most recent of which are City of Tomorrow (2013) and Buenos Aires (2013). His poems have appeared in CutBank, Sixth Finch, Meridian, Puerto del Sol, Washington Square, and elsewhere. He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife and two sons.