Girl Work, by Zefyr Lisowski

Girl Work

After Grey Vild

 Most of them tell me I’m pretty. The first man
 grabs me rough but fucks like he’s afraid
 of something breaking. Another has
 a patchy beard and says how special
 and underappreciated I am. It must just kill
 you, he says. The one on Tinder asks
 if I have a working cock. The ones under
 the bridge in undergrad just tell me
 to suck them off and rub their crotches
 as they say so. The one with muttonchops
 was obnoxious, but his friends were cute.
 I’m pretty sure at least three of them
 are girls now. I pass out when the one with
 the greying beard is inside of me,
 but he holds me afterward, which is chill.
 Another one insists on fucking only to the
 Greatest Hits of Tom Petty. Isn’t there anything
 else you can put on, I ask, as he cums into
 a sock. The turtleneck one is super
 excited to show off his top surgery, and
 whimpers during orgasm. The one with
 the weird goatee cries before he comes,
 I still regret not asking why. He smells
 like lavender, and had a guest bathrobe
 the color of sunlight. Now it’s winter. Now it’s
 summer. Now it’s summer again. The one
 from OKCupid only wants me
 for a threesome with his girlfriend, but I
 still say maybe. I don’t know what
 I want, but have I ever? The car roof is down
 and my partner’s driving, stereo playing
 Tom Petty— Full Moon Fever. We’re both
 in sundresses and Tom is singing,
 I-I-I-I’m depending on you. The one
 I met for drinks takes me back to his place
 and then sits on his futon for hours. A breeze
 stirs the car. My partner is good to me. 
 The weather is in the eighties. 
 She brushes the hair from my face,
 and lets me stop for water when I need it. 
 I am only doing this because I want to. 
 Your lips taste like peppermint.

Girl Work

As a child I knew the joy of home     
An owl, a possum, a lizard         
Dead boy on his bicycle                       The gifts of our little land    
That boy could be you my father said on his bicycle and my joy dribbled out 
            Listen: we had a small house         Were normal        Changed clothes regularly 
The first man who told me you are safe changed my clothes regularly     
                                                                                                 Was my father
                                                                                                                          Was a good man
                                                                              Was just doing what he was supposed to
When I turned twelve he said oh you’re grown strung up a punching bag in the   garage to girl me into
1) the swampland     
                                2) our neighbor’s lawn     
                                                                            3) my muscles soft and slick
                                                                                                                 My father was good
                                                                                                Did what he was supposed to
The swamp’s gifts everywhere                Boys watching the rot of it all
            Listen        This is what I did 
I worked

Zefyr Lisowski is a trans Southerner and Pisces bitch living in New York City. She’s a poetry co-editor at Apogee Journal and the author of Blood Box (Black Lawrence Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in Waxwing, The Offing, The Rumpus, and elsewhere; she lives online at