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Here is her tombstone, Harriet L. Not.

I almost miss her as I walk by.

Did she like the name “Harriet”?

Is she here? Am I? elsewhere, or not?

Conjugate it: I am

you are

she is

we are

they are.

What does this get me?

Where did it get her?


And that name - “Not” -

dismissive, erasing, extinguishing, demeaning.

Did she share it with a large family?

Did she bear it alone?

Here is her tombstone

smallish and gray, no angels, no widespread wings.

No other Nots buried with her.

She is, she is not, we are not.


You told me that you are not.

Not what you want to be, 

not what you appear to be,

not what you look like,

in a place of in-between.

You make your body move, become female,

the woman you long to be.

And here it is, here you are – this place you’ve arrived at,

holding all of your questions, all of your longing, so much need.

Will you look like a woman

in clothes that show your skin?

Will you feel like a woman when you wear a bra?

What does a woman feel like – like me, or like you?

What about your hair, long or short?

What about cutting into your body?

Where are you now?

Erasing yourself, sketching an outline,

stippled and shaded within.


I knew that body,

I know your body.

I’ve held it, comforted, stroked,

I want to know if your body is still you – 

and I don’t.


Harriet was a Not,

here is her tombstone.

I create a lifetime for Harriet Not.

Married, four children, she survived her husband.

But where will this get me?

What does this do for her?

She is buried, a small marker, a name among many.

I walk by, constantly alone, consistently lonely.

Conjugate it:

I am here, you are here, she is here.

We are not.

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