By Iris McCloughan

I gave him a wide berth as I went
to put Swann’s spirit in a case.
Now that I was friendly with all the agonies

of Combray, I couldn’t afford any
indiscretion. Out on Rue de Paradis
I was fancy. Special. Particular.

It was Mardi Gras again, or 
something resembling that pocket
of unobstructed pleasure.

I was almost sorry I couldn’t be
my own husband, working the mill,
my senses refined down to bone.

I said almost.

I announced to the street
in the voice I’d just met that I was
the gardener. I was observed

reappearing in the thickets,
intensely astonished. 
I had all the correct letters

of permission. I deemed myself
sufficiently patient, beyond
need of shade, totally unassailable.

A long bough grew 
from my forehead, trying,
I assumed, to speak.

Iris McCloughan is a trans writer, artist, and performer in New York. They were the winner of the 2018 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from American Poetry Review, and were named a finalist in Nonfiction for Best of the Net 2020. They are the author of three chapbooks, including Triptych (forthcoming, greying ghost) and Bones To Peaches (2021, Seven Kitchens Press). Their writing has appeared in jukedjubilatAmerican Poetry ReviewQueen Mob’s TeahouseANMLYDenver Quarterly, and elsewhere. They have collaborated with many other artists and writers, including Eiko Otake, Joan Jonas, Mike Lala, Toby Altman, and Julie Mayo.