Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Gender Fluidity, Ghosts and a Plague
“A ghost has just formed to the right of my head,”
Bette decides to confide to her date, the transsexual Fred
(f to m) who tells Bette (m to f) it derives from Samarkand,
an ancient and opulent city in southern Uzbekistan.
Back when Fred ran refreshments (his kale and mint frappe
was a smash – over there where they now offered crap
like a fig newton chili that made you rip open your collar)
the spirit of Ibn Battuta arrived: fourteenth century scholar,
a Muslim whom many admired. Wikipedia lauds him;
and often when Fred says hello, he applauds him.
But Bette was regaled far more now by the fab tricks
Batutta brought off: a sense in the night that rare fabrics
enfolded them lightly, dreaming in gleaming embraces
Batutta said he’d undergone in the most sacred places
where people who, struck by the plague of the day,
would first pray to recover, and then simply pray.
Fred said that Batutta was drawn by our masks,
which he thought signaled gender fluidity. He asks
“what’s it like, Bette, to be reborn and become one another?”
“At once,” she replies, “we’re sister, brother, father, mother.”
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