Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Loki's Gender"

This poem is spillover from the February 3, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] chordatesrock. It also fills the "cross-dressing" square in my 1-3-15 card for the [community profile] trope_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] stardreamer.

"Loki's Gender"

Loki's gender isn't an easy thing to describe.

It's not that there are no words for the things
that Loki is and Loki does -- just, all of them are rude.

Hamrammr, they say, shapeshifter and two-faced and confused.
Nīðing, they say, villain and dishonorable and second-rate.
Ergi, they say, unmanly and unnatural and base coward.
Seiðmaðr, they say, sorcerer and sorcerer's friend and catamite.

There's no respect in a warrior culture for
a man who does magic better than a woman,
a man who can handle a knife tolerably well
but a broadsword or a warhammer, not so much.

Loki's gender isn't something that fits in a box.

Nobody understands that just because
Loki is no good at performing masculinity
according to their expectations (or perhaps
not bothering to do so: the case is unclear)
doesn't necessarily make him either
feminine or a woman, nor does his ability
to shapeshift into female form and bear young
make him automatically a motherly person.

Loki is no better at parenting than his own parents,
which should not actually come as a surprise
to anyone, but still they blame him.

Somebody always blames him.

Loki's gender isn't any more solid than his body.

He can be sensual but not romantic,
male but not masculine, female but not feminine,
always present but never quite fitting in,
both and neither and unique.

When the giant Þrymr steals Thor's hammer
and demands Freya in payment for it,
Loki laughs and dresses Thor as a bride,
disguising himself as a bridesmaid,
and together they win the day.

When Skaði demands that the gods amuse her,
Loki ties his testicles to the beard of a billy goat
and embarks on a contest of bleating until
he lands in her lap and makes her laugh.

Loki's gender is a tesseract.

It bends and folds around itself,
turning place without moving.

It exists in all dimensions simultaneously,
and defies understanding.

* * *


Loki is among the most genderqueer of Norse deities.

hamrammr -- shapeshifter

Unmanly terms include ergi, ragr, argr, and níð.

Þrymskviða belongs to the Poetic Edda.

Read about Loki appeasing Skaði.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, spirituality, weblit, writing
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