Regard

by Joli St. Patrick

Good evening
it’s me
your darling girl
of the stage
your delicious dollop
of feel-good
confectionery
I’m here
of course
to delight
and inspire you
ask me anything
no really
don’t be shy
open my book
read whatever
you can find
in all my margins
We all know
that the moment
I shrugged on
a dress
I pledged to wear
my life story
on my sleeve

I certainly didn’t
embark on this journey
because I wanted
to hide
it’s not like
I expected
to retain
one shred
of privacy
So take a lick
there’s plenty for all
taste the sweet empathy
savor the bravery
jerk a tear
for the poor little girl
trapped inside
gasp in wonder
at the woman
she’s become
And don’t forget
To add your own touch
My canvas is yours
Paint me slur
Paint me fetish
Paint me inclusion policy
Paint me think piece
Paint me book deal
Paint me Oscar bait

Run a finger
over every inch
trace the stubble
that proves my
femininity
is a daily battle
touch a throat
whose softest tones
fail to cloak
testosterone’s roar
brush nipples
still yet to bloom
after years
of estrogen waterings
Reach between
my legs
to prove
that what is there
does not belong
and how brave
I must be
to pretend
that it does
Now step back
wash your gaze over
this body
this narrative
nod
smile
confident
that you understand
that I am a thing
thoroughly known
that you have honored me
with your highest
regard

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