To the Woman in Me
That you once looked like Georgia O’Keefe, blame it on the Halloween makeup.
Neither beauty nor heavy-breasted beast—
You’re still sweet, baby, armed with ripped pink pantyhose as I imagine.
But if you had rather go by unnoticed, not make a sound, let me know. Right,
I’ve denied you before, lips Revlon raw in the tiny mirror.
Then the sudden shame, Mother’s compact snapping shut
on the whole shebang. One midsummer night in the mid-eighties
you leaned against my friend’s door, a demure and bearded young lady in a perm wig.
On a dare you stepped out to strut along the long distance trucks
parked beneath the froufrou of leaves in the dark.
The cat calls made you squirm and return inside to uncork more wine and cap the fear.
It was fun you said to the gaggle of giggling men in drag. Dress or no dress, Georgia,
please come out, be my tomboyish bride. I’ll throw myself
under your jaunty cowboy boots like rain or glitter
on some outrageous rooftop, if you ask.
“Americans are cold,” Mother claims from another America south of Mexico.
But what did Dennis the hairdresser say, all those years ago?
“People from your country must be cold,” he pronounced after I dodged yet another of his sexual advances. “Well at least we don’t lie about our age,” I replied based on the passport I’d found in the washer that morning.
Dennis had also advertised his living room as a second “bedroom.” I took it anyway.
My very first night there he trilled, “Wanna watch a video?” and popped in The Biggest One I
Ever Saw when I got off a long distance call. A week and one burglary later the VCR would be gone, thank you lord.
Mother sighs, “They don’t kiss as much as we do.”
(I was flattered by the harassment even if I hid in his bathroom.)
Sometimes my lips find air, or a taut equation of jawbone plus neck, face turned away; imagine trying to smooch Mount Rushmore.
“The European kiss!” an American acquaintance exclaimed while recoiling from the puckered
menace of my visiting friend’s mouth who muttered,
“What an asshole.”
Further pictures of awkward kissing come to mind. The way Father and I greeted. It entailed a
rigid choreography of controlled forces to achieve the briefest of pecks on either cheek. (If only
cranes could kiss; two cranes leaning into the other for a flash sideswipe at a construction site.)
He would not come to the airport to see me off.
The eve of my departure Dad held the umbrella as we crossed the street, his arm belted
around my waist—a first and last. “Don’t trust anybody,” he advised at the bus stop.
The other close contact was a slap at age five.
(To mate birds touch their multi-purpose back orifices together; this is known as a cloacal kiss.)
“They hug a lot!”
(Open car windows were created to let out a whoop after kissing your high school crush. In gym
showers kisses may wash off easily but, strangely enough, last longer.)
“We hug too, Mom.”
Once, in front of her husband’s grave, she gripped my hand and she was so tiny and I, her somewhat embarrassed child.
(I remember the dab of butter Dad left on my cheek from the toast he ate thirty-five years ago.)
Mom says, “Americans hug more. I see it in movies.”
At 6 I asked, “What color is a kiss?”
Beso Americano… elusive…slippery in casual greeting, an understatement…
One more kiss, dear, begs the Blade Runner soundtrack.
A kiss is still a kiss, according to Casablanca.
Kiss your lover’s back where dark meets light, I say.
Bésame mucho, please. I’m a sucker for it.
Ok skin—blood—tingle—are you all ready?
Here it comes.
American Horror Story
I walk post-Election Day. With each step
leaves blow about
swarming into a brief, see-through yellow fist
against the drab sky.
I walk past the Post misread headline:
“It was a great ‘horror’ to meet President Obama,” the Orange-elect says.
I press the placebo button to let other people in. We go up.
The boss says this is crazy but he’s giddy.
I go down, I walk out.
I refuse to live anywhere else. Here
I refuse. Here
I walk with these blues, in a red beanie hat.
Past the community garden,
past the wireframe Christmas trees
whose sci-fi blinking I snag with my phone’s eye.
Guillermo Filice Castro is a queer poet and photographer. Agua, Fuego, his most recent chapbook, is from Finishing Line Press. He’s a recipient of an E-S-B fellowship from the Poetry Project. His poems appear in Barrow Street, The Brooklyn Rail, Court Green, Glass Poetry, and many more; as well as in the anthologies Rabbit Ears, Divining Divas, Saints of Hysteria, and others. His photography has been featured in Ducts.org, Salonzine, Hinchas de Poesia, and Canopic Jar. Born and raised in Argentina, he lives and works in New York City.