Requiem for a Boy-Girl by Tobias Maxwell

I let go of the longing
When I was a boy,
When I was a girl.
I let go of the longing
When I turned twelve,
When my father shook the two-spirit
From me, tearing off me my dress-up clothes
Into tatters, demanding that I tell him
What it was I had between my legs.
Even though I knew what it was,
I did not want to say it out loud,
For fear the word would make it too real,
Would wrangle out of me the lovely fiction
I had created for myself, dressed in multicolored
Crinolines, like fairy dust against my nubile legs.
Threw away my satin and chiffon evening dress,
My too-big high-heeled shoes that let me walk
In a slight recline to feel tall all at the same time.
I lost touch with my feminine side and sent
It packing along with my sister’s Tressy doll
That had been all mine for longer than it had
Ever been hers to claim. No more makeup or
Rhinestone jewelry, no more dressing up,
No more hairdressing my mother’s locks.
Everything “she”got sent packing, hiding of my own
Free will—(or as much free will as I imagined then),
Locked away in cupboards without doors.
At the end of the loveliest, longest, most luxurious
Summer day in a boy-girl’s life, the universe she knew
Came to a mournful halt. No last rites, no eulogy.
Imagine the psychological dirge a child observes
At the primitive loss of a secret held too close.
Photo by Magda Ehlers on

About the Poet:

Tobias Maxwell is the author of two novels, Thomas (semi-finalist Lambda Awards 2003) and The Sex and Dope Show Saga; a novella, And Baby Makes Two, three memoirs, 1973—Early Applause1977—The Year of Leaving Monsieur and 1983—The Unknown Season; and a poetry collection, Homogium.  His short story, The Appointment, was in the fall 2018 issue of Worlds Magazine available online. His articles have appeared in Balita and Mom…Guess What newspapers, LA Edge, Art & UnderstandingNew Century and The California Therapist magazines. His one-act play, The Mary Play, was republished in 2014 by Black Lawrence Press in Art & Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years of A&U. 

3 thoughts on “Requiem for a Boy-Girl by Tobias Maxwell

Add yours

  1. I never obviously seemed to challenge the gender I was born with. Many who k ow me would see no confluct there…
    yet there are so many sides to me, so many facets and secret compartments…
    places I go to when I wander…
    and if I were to proclaim which identity, which gender, appears to emerge triumphant…

    well, it’d be an interesting announcement.

    But the real triumph, I think, is finding who we are in the space we carve out between all those handed to us.

    Something of that shines through the tragedy here.

    Liked by 1 person

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