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“They wanted to blend/ with the woods or ground. Together/ with men they were blown from their pronouns.”

my heartList of Cross-Dressing Soldiers,” one of my favorite poems from Patricia Lockwood’s new book, is up at Poetry Daily:

First there was Helen of Sparta, who did it only
with oil, no one knows how; then there was
Maggie of England, who even on the battlefield
put men back together; and then there was Rose
of the deepest South, who stood up in her father’s
clothes and walked out of the house and herself.

Disguised women were always among them.
They badly wanted to wear blue, they badly
wanted to wear red, they wanted to blend
with the woods or ground. Together
with men they were blown from their pronouns.

The narrative shift to Lockwood’s brother is so strong here; this is my favorite stanza.

A friend writes to him, “My dress blues are being
altered for a bloodstripe.” That’s a beautiful line,
I can’t help hearing. “Kisses,” he writes to a friend.
His friend he writes back, “Cuddles.” Bunch of girls,
bunch of girls. They write each other, “Miss you,
brother.” Bunch of girls, bunch of girls. They passed
the hours with ticklefights. They grew their mustaches
together. They lost their hearts to local dogs,
what a bunch of girls.

Read the rest! [Poetry Daily]

Photo via Mateus/Flickr


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