Joyce S. Brown

Escape from Freedom  

The hair shirt of freedom
discomforts me. I am made
for a convent or the army
where the dress code’s clear.

When I was young, the stiff cotton dress
my older sister tied me into with a
matching sash, fit my psyche perfectly.

Even now, the too-tight pants and tops
my daughter urges me to wear —
a stay against old age– are fine,
since someone else has taken charge.

Too wild for the nunnery, too weak
to fight a war, I will wear all this,
and fret far less than in that hair shirt
whose itch reminds me that I never
seem to know which way to turn.


Hasn’t  there always been
a Harry who wanted to be
a Harriet, and a Harriet who
knew herself as Harry?

Now, Harry is able
to have his genitalia
removed, while Harriet
can have an organ added–
maybe grafted on? All this
changing must be painful,
but like a birth, produces
something new: new life,
which could be plural.
Not twins but “they.”
This trend may cut
the population down;
the planet’s groaning as it is.

Being old has one advantage:
to me it’s clear that bodies
seems less captivating every year.

© Joyce S. Brown

Joyce S. Brown taught fiction and poetry writing 10 years in JHU Writing Seminars. Poems published in Poetry, The American Scholar, The Maryland Poetry Review, Passager, The Tennessee Quarterly, Smartish Pace and others.

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