The Bearded Lady

Poems are full immersion experiences. Sometimes the symbols or extended metaphor may make you feel out of your depth. But if you can stay afloat long enough with a doggy paddle, it can feel more like a natural habitat. Friends who are clinical psychologists may send out a life raft. (Thank you, Bláthaín! And you, too, Tony!) It is true of our dreams, too. It can take a while to fathom their depths when you are swirling in the currents of culturally defined masculinity and femininity.

Bearded Lady

She's a freak,
a circus sideshow combing
her facial hirsutism
on display for all to see,
which feels so wrong
in so many ways.
She inspires pity and terror,
(the ancient Greek formula
for pure tragedy)
that she may never know love
or the safety
of a good husband.

I have sprouted the blonde beard
of a Viking sailor,
but without the moustache,
which comes out looking
disconcertingly Amish,
pacifist Anabaptist farmer
meeting Scandi noir-ior-
marauder, raider, rapist,
coloniser, usurper,
appropriator, trader.

No, no, no, no!
I cannot have that!
There is not enough beard oil
in the world
that can soften all that bristle.
I do not want to identify
with that!

Get out the trimmer.
Consider the strap and the blade.
Pour on the chemical
depilatory cream to disable
any stray traces
of masculine shade.

But when I look in the mirror
what I see
is that Viking sailor
with that weirdly Amish
non-tache
and I now have the task
of masking my bearded lady
who is still there
without her whiskers
nonetheless.

living with the knowledge
I am only the circus' sideshow
while the main event
is happening out
in the Big Top tent,
where the only women
who get to perform
are certain speciality acts.
They balance on the high wire.
The only ones who get to fly
swing on the trapeze.
Both without a safety net.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Today’s featured image is of a vintage circus poster which can be found and purchased fromhttp://garageartsigns.com/product-tag/vintage-circus-posters/

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