SAY HER

I withhold saying “this person”
worrying my mom would bury herself in her room,
beneath red wine and baby pictures
go silent or
tell me I’ll meet a man
who woos me with dinner and presents

after years I uncover enough to say
her
she woos me
and then she runs her fingers through my hair
holds me against her breast, bites my thighs
until the only pronoun fitting is we/us/ours.

I say
her.
It’s preferred. By her.
But my hip friends say they anyway
as if menswear seared off
35 years of that rare
female body underneath,
as if I were straight again
(or as straight as I let my mom think),
with “this person”
the one who I daydream about tasting
wake nights so I have more time to savor
the memory of her orange juice acidity

and what about me?
so easily called “she”
I’m not quite they, with my je ne sais queer
some ineffable femininity I carry
even when I quit wearing eyeliner
stopped saying “I’m sorry.”
See, words matter so say
what these pronouns really mean:
I am more woman than her
She is more dyke than me.

Jocelyn Macdonald was born in rural Indiana to an Evangelical Christian family. She has moved many times, but carries the smell of thunderstorms and the glow of fireflies with her everywhere. She wound up in Seattle so she could feel safe being herself, and now she is so good at it, she is herself wherever she goes. In her spare time, Jocelyn wrenches and rides an ’86 Honda Rebel 450. You can read about it here