Self-Portrait at Age 9 as Albert Cashier

You’re likely fuming
at me being
late phoning to check on you
but I’m in a trans
conference learning
how much I have
in common with Albert Cashier

Did you never think it odd
as a kid I garbed in camouflage
carrying a rifle all around
our apartment?

Cashier enlisted in the army
during the civil war, fought
for three years until
it was over.

Your massive steel
apartment door
guarding perennially
buffed marble floors
sported your beloved
double Medeco locks.

Me, on high alert code
red sleeping with my bayonet
in bed. Did you not think
bizarre, me patrolling our home chronically
armed? Grenade beneath
my pillow, index finger
wearing the ring
controlling the pin

After the war Cashier worked
as church janitor, cemetery
worker, street lamplighter.

Calculating the drop from my 4th story
bedroom window repeatedly entertaining
jumping not dying,
my bed sheet parachute mitigating
partial paralysis I’d weigh against
my shortened sentence

Cashier was allowed to vote after
the war though women weren’t
allowed back then,
no one knew Albert
dressed his woman’s body
as a man to work it out.

Hiding perfectly still in my closet,
hours zipped within my sleeping
bag, elongating breath suspension
imagining which door you’d allow Milly
remove my body bag through

In the end Cashier was buried
in his civil war uniform and given
full military funeral.

If you die before I’m able
to phone what would you like
to be buried in? Black? dark
dirt on cheeks where blush
otherwise goes—Dressed as me
at nine years you could maybe feel
what I felt crawling around
POW-style praying allies,
liberators, emancipators could