Letter to Brandon Teena

by Stacey Waite

I become a man by accident at the Pirates game:
I HAVE AN INTERESTING NAME and WILL I BUY HER A BEER?
I shift in the hard blue seat, # 216.  This isn't the first time
Pittsburgh has made a man out of me. The stadium lights
are white warnings and this woman's thick thigh
pressed over the plastic arm of 216.  Charlie Hayes
has been traded again.  WHO ARE YOU ROOTING FOR?
she asks. The sky has its mind made up and won't rain,
not that I am playing this game under protest.

I know what it's like to make love to a woman with your clothes on,
your hips quivering with the fear of she knows what I am.

I know what kind of men we are, parting her fingers from the belt buckle
as if to say this kind of revelation isn't at all necessary.

For you, there was gunfire and the moon was a white tear.
And who will believe us that deception is only
a matter of cutting through the red tape?

Through the Liberty Tunnel, she changes the radio stations.
DO I MIND? she asks.  I keep imagining my car scraping
the concrete walls of the tunnel, hitting the truck
in front of us. I might be in the O.R. when the nurse
presses the ice pack over this woman's lip and says,
YOUR FRIEND, SHE'S GOING TO BE ALRIGHT. For me,
there's never any turning back and I've got a hunch
even desire is a kind of murder. What do you think of that?
Do you think I should have left her there in centerfield
and counted my other blessings?


Stacey Waite

Stacey Waite is the author of four collections of poems: Butch Geography, Tupelo Press, 2013, Choke (winner of the 2004 Frank O’Hara Prize), Love Poem to Androgyny (Main Street Rag, 2007), and the lake has no saint (winner of Tupelo’s 2008 Snowbound Chapbook Award). With both an M.F.A. in poetry and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pittsburgh, Waite now teaches courses in writing, gender studies, and pedagogy as an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln.