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I Will Look Like Nothing Acceptable


I’ve been a woman the way a river is a light source.
Today, Lily and I walk a marsh overlook on our anniversary—
for a moment I’m whole at her side.

Law will erase my existence as a woman,
like the moment the magician drops his sheet
and the girl is gone, out the trap mirrors.

At least for a while I had been a boy, somewhat
better than being a man.  I lived as a small face suspended
in blurry haze, seen but not really.  The ignorance
mine and everyone else’s, warm and contained
as a womb.  Now I wake into a world of fragile,
bright things: her hands in my short hair,
the birds hanging like ornaments on the stripped
branches, waiting their turn at the fallen seed.

My parents warn me in emails not to excavate
between my legs, this bulge as I sit
eating breakfast in hoodie and sweat, when no mood
can convince me I am a woman.

My friends, I’ll drop the curtain.  End of show.
I’ll go out into the streets. Hairy fists, my dragging voice—

        But Lily is pulling me through the strewn grass,
and here I am, wearing this love like a breathless dress.

The brown rushes are more beautiful than this world
deserves—the trees nearly naked, so visible.


Rebecca Bedell is a trans poet and writer raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Her writing has appeared in Palette Poetry, Salt Hill, Grist, Bayou Magazine, Barely South Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and earned her MFA from UW-Madison, where she was awarded the William Marr Graduate Scholarship Prize in Poetry. She works for a non-profit and has many hobbies.

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