- deciduous qween, I, and: deciduous qween, II, and: deciduous qween, III, and: deciduous qween, V, and: Bayou Baby
deciduous qween, I
of teeth, being shed at the end of a period of growth
I forget how sharpness first emerged from my jaw the way milk teeth pushed through tender flesh how they scratched then chewedthe insides of my cheeks just to tear another part of me raw. I forget the taste of blood a toddler’s ironon a toddler’s tongue the guttural scream of a small creature whose only language was pain. You remember. Tell me no toddler ever teethed with such indignation tell me your mama and I just wanted you to be happy to be quiet. But your babyjust grew louder and louder into a gaudy and ungodly thing losing incisors and molars like enamel sequins shedding canines keen and shiny as plastic diamonds. They’d all fall out of my mouth like sighsso high-pitched they shimmered in glitter-dusted confetti. [End Page 9] This is how I learned to sell my body one tooth at a time for a quarter then a dollarand you’d hold all the smallest parts of me in your hand glistening white opal stones unearthed from my gums like words that only shine when they are free from the dark caverns of my unmuzzled maw. This is how I learned to let go for a price those blood-stained roots the only soft, dangling remnantsof loss. [End Page 10]
deciduous qween, II
of antlers, being shed at the end of a period of growth
There were two crowns. I wore them bothlike a pair of antlers—diamond-encrustedbone that began to grow from my pedicleswhen I was four, prancing about our livingroom in a Mickey Mouse onesie, doing thepretty dance on baby qween’s first stage—a shaggy carpet—twirling for baby qween’sfirst audience: Mama & Daddy & Brother.That afternoon, I felt sparkling silver gleamsprout from my skull like all my bones wereprecious metal, & I just wanted to let themshine, to let anyone hold my body in the lightso I could look like I was worth something.It took twenty years for the first coronation,for those fairy drag mothers to pin diamond& metal into my cheap wig. It took one yearto let go, to pass that crown along to anotherqueen like an omen, like the outline of a buckin headlights, his head tipped back, his eyeslost in the night sky as he braces for some sortof impact. Sometimes, I want to be crushedby an oilfield tanker on a road carved fromWest Texas dirt, somewhere between Ozona& Big Lake & Garden City, but I haven’treally thought about it. Sometimes, I want tobe manhandled by an applause—the force ofhand against hand channeled into my bonesso fiercely cracks spider my crowns’ metallicstems until they shatter. I’ll grind what’s leftinto silver buds, smoke my reign into ash, feelthose bone-fleshed flames fill my lungs. MaybeI’ll always wear my royalty on the inside, takea drag or a hit & hold on to that high becauseI learned nothing lasts, least of all an unloved [End Page 11] body. I’ve met too many men who don’t wantthe crown so much as the head it rests upon.So let them take that, too. I’d give up all mybones just to know they’re still worth wanting. [End Page 12]
deciduous qween, III
of the body, the breath, not permanent; transitory or ephemeral
I can’t lie on my back & look at the skywithout trembling—my haunches sunk
into the grass, my mind wondering whenthe ground will let go. Call it a universal fear
of what holds us in space. Call it vertigo—how we are all in constant motion, even
in our stillness. My yoga instructor saysthe final pose is the hardest. Play dead.
Pretend you’re okay with it. You deservethis. When my grandfather died, I heard...