At ten, I meet myself in the mirror of my sister’s vanity, squeezed into the tiny corset of her pale blue dress, Cinderella’s image printed on the breast like a brooch. My little-boy pecs puff out like cleavage. The tulle skirt brushes against my thighs, rising above the knee, billowing around my Fruit-of-the-Looms as I prance down the staircase to the dining room where my mother lights a candle before dinner. She laughs to see me skip across the hardwood floor, turning and twirling on the ball of my socked foot—and when she does, I know I want to keep her laughing. I’m not sure why, but I speak in a higher voice, with a lisp, and she laughs harder, and, as I’m preening, brushing my cheeks with the back of my hand, leaping into the air like the hippos in Fantasia, I notice the tears— how they run down the corner of her nose, wetting her upper lip. I don’t know why she’s crying—maybe I’m really that funny. So I keep dancing.
On a reasonably sized female adult, two square yards of the stuff, all etched with nerves of wild to be roused, altogether the largest organ in the body. Unless you count the considerable accumulation of disappointment that sprouts as fast as creeper in a chemical-free yard. Or all those useless tears, salt and mucus and plain old water manufactured by the ducts every time hurt shows up for dinner, rather more often too, as the years advance, putting his feet on the sofa, leaving dishes in the sink. Perpetually twenty with his tight ass and gorgeous hands, he invents longing like a tall tale and gets us to drink one more glass of merlot than we’d meant to tonight. If only we had more feathers and horn, that sweet jacket of woolly lanugo we wore in the womb and swallowed like a marvelous secret just days before the world turned on the lights and pronounced us girls.