Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Learning to Be Her"

This poem came out of the April 1, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "habits and routines" square in my 3-6-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by an anonymous donor. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

"Learning to Be Her"

There are so many things,
Calvin/Calliope realizes,
that girls learn growing up
so they know how to be women,
so much they are taught
that he never had a chance to pick up.

The whirlwind gave him a woman's body
to match the hidden spirit inside,
something felt but never named
suddenly whipped out into the open.

He can be Calliope now --
but he does not know how to be her.

So he studies.

He joins forum discussions
and looks up articles on the Internet
and browses bookstores for self-help titles.

He hires a gender coach
who explains the mysteries of girltalk,
how to choose clothes and put on makeup,
the delicate art of walking in high heels,
what hairstyle says of personality,
a thousand little markers of womanhood --

from which, it is carefully explained,
Calliope must choose those
which express her own womanhood.

Slowly, inexorably,
like a second puberty
sculpting mind instead of body,
he begins to blossom into she.

Calliope discovers that
she loves girltalk,
can yak and listen for hours
and learn things about friends
that he never dreamed of hearing.

She figures out her taste in fashion,
the airy pastels of "spring,"
fabrics that float and flutter --
or things that stay put, like leather.

She does not like towering heels,
nor flats and wedges, but rather
low heels that add just a hint
of sway to her step.

She lets her hair grow,
enjoying the spring as it extends
into soft broad spirals
that she never knew were waiting.

The habits are slow to emerge,
but a path is formed by walking on it:

Calliope chooses her clothes
according to her mood,
then her shoes to match the clothes.

She brushes her hair and does her face,
and it doesn't feel like putting on a mask,
but like painting by numbers until
the true picture becomes visible.

Calliope does, of course,
wear an actual mask on duty
when she works as a superhera;
she designs a feminine costume
of dexflan and capery in dusty shades
of pink, blue, lavender, and cream.

When she puts it on,
she feels like becoming
ever more her genuine self;
it is Calvin who is the cover.

Calliope is learning to be herself.

And the willful wind
which seemed so difficult to control
now twines about her fingers
like the curl of her hair
she can't stop playing with.

* * *


Calliope (Calvin Sanna) -- Calliope comes from Oklahoma; the father's family is Greek-American, while the mother's family is American. Calliope has light olive skin with gray eyes and short hair in shades of lighter and darker blond.
Origin: Sucked into a tornado.
Uniform: Feminine-styled costume of dexflan and capery in dusty shades of pink, blue, lavender, and cream.
Powers: Expert (+4) Air Powers (meta-power including Flight, Phasing, Sonic Blast, Tornado Straws, Whirlwind, Windtalking), Average (0) Empathy, Average (0) Shapeshifting
Vulnerability: Air Powers are opposed by Earth Powers. Some Air abilities do not work on an Earth-powered opponent, and vice versa, typically those meant to affect a person directly. Others gain an upshift on damage, typically attacks.
Limitation: So far the Shapeshifting only works to switch between Calvin and Calliope. As the power improves, additional shapes may be gained.

* * *

A gender coach teaches people about gender identity, expression, and transitioning. Voice tone, communication style, fitting clothes, assembling outfits, wearing makeup, and walking like a woman are some of the many things that transwomen typically need to study.

Fashion seasons suggest your "best perfect colors" using color theory. Here's an analysis of spring colors. It's not easy to determine colors when your skin, eyes, and hair tend to point in different directions. Cal kind of said, "Fuck it, I'm an Air elemental and I like pastels, so I'm wearing these."

Gender expression is about the performance of gender -- the things people do, wear, or say to advertise their identity. For transgender women, femininity is a conscious choice as they create their image from the options available.

Pink, blue, lavender, and white are colors commonly used in transgender flags (of which there are several versions).
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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