“They haunted us like vultures.”
—Berry Berenson (wife of Tony Perkins), The New York Times, 1992
From the hospital where I was born
Tony’s positivity leaked. A lack
of context can make evil
acts beautiful, like: an enquiring mole
rooting among the cedars by the mountain
does sound nice. Sinai. Cedars Sinai, where I
was born. I know the National Enquirer
too, too well—they outed me at eighteen.
Clear signs of my transsexuality:
my parents lie professionally. Stars!
Under which I was born, under
the false name “Blanche” (O harbinger!
O root!) in 1992, when Tony died. Two
years before, Cedars tested his blood
for something unrelated and a mole leaked it,
someone who still sleeps at night. I know,
I feel his sleep, like my schoolmates’ sleep
who sold me out to the Enquirer.
We smuggled me out to another state—
I lay down in the back of the car—
photographers outside our house,
claiming each friend who left was me.
They all looked gay. No one to sue.
Tony read it, got tested. Every word
about both of us—true.
Stephen Ira’s poetry and short fiction have appeared in Spot Literary Magazine, the St. Sebastian Review, and Specter Magazine, among other journals, and in the anthology The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard (Topside Press, 2012), edited by Tom Léger and Riley MacLeod. With Kay Gabriel, RL, and Liam O’Brien, Stephen co-edits Vetch: A Journal of Trans Poetry and Poetics. In 2013, he was selected as one of Lambda Literary’s summer fellows in poetry. In 2014, he was featured as a guest star in La Mama’s SQUIRTS: New Voices in Queer Performance. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2014.
This poem is not previously published.