for Frances Murphy
I'm not going to end with the punchline, "and the gorilla girl is a man" because it's more complicated than that, I know you know that. Like many girls, she was born into a body she didn't recognize. One that grew hair across her mouth, one that grew large, pale and mottled, pushed out full flaps that could pass for breasts, that were breasts. She liked to wear a dress: who doesn't? She favored pink and peach, gauzy sleeves, pearl necklaces, and a saucy small hat, perched at an angle. She decided to make the best of the beard that surprised her each morning in the mirror -- pincurls, styling gel, a contract with the circus, with the traveling freak show. It's not easy being a gorilla or a girl: eventually, after climbing all those skyscrapers, swatting all those biplanes, they're going to catch you. They're going to catch you on the subway steps, or outside a restaurant smoking after ten. Eventually, the cops and doctors will part your legs in a courtroom, and on a metal table, will unbraid the mystery buried in all that fur.