Half-Male, Half-Female Cardinal

Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers

          Part buff, part vermillion, you vogue

for us in profile, show off


          your flaming pompadour. Color is fiercest

in the face & breast, as if entering


          a great red headwind.

The body of a woman, Queen


          Elizabeth said before the Spanish Armada,

but I have the heart & stomach of a king.


          Even your beak is the sun’s neon,

the twin-but-separate lips


          somehow straddling

the holy & profane. Spewing seedshells


          to the ground, common birds

cheep their taunts: Hey Gynomorph,


          whydontcha tweet us your sex

tips? Though I heard you’re firing blanks.


          True, your right body refuses,

its purse shriveled & empty,


          though the devil’s left

still percolates with eggs. While my own


          right ovary slept — its hard nits

dotting the screen — my other half


          rose to the occasion,

gussied up in its pearls. Is it true


          what they always tell

the girls, how sex


          will never make us whole?

Your boyfriend, his black mask


          like punk rock eyeliner, whistles

and trills for you all night,


          follows you all day

like your shadow. He digs your edge —


          your fiery crest, gel-crusted

spikes — but goes gaga


          for your cream-colored underbelly.

Can’t help himself, he claims —


          I can help you over here, Sir,

the clerk tells my wife


          as she swaggers by the rack

labeled MATERNITY,


          her big belly hidden

by the scarlet jacket she carries.


          She smooths her faux hawk,

lays her purchase on the counter.


He eyes her up and down.

          I’m sorry, he says, embarrassed.


          I’m not, she fires back,

fingering those bright lapels.


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