Notes from the Multi-Cultural Closet

Renata Costa

Renata Costa
July 03
I hail from a Latin American country and teach at a small college. I write stories about gender, sexuality, and environmental justice. I am currently seeking representation for my new novel. All persons’ names in my writings are changed for privacy protection.

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SEPTEMBER 20, 2012 10:33AM

How Not To Turn Into the Lesbian You Are Bent on Becoming

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(After the style of Jamaica Kinkaid's "Girl")
This is how you brush your hair; this is how you braid it neat; this is how you pick chamomile flowers before the sun burns the dew off; this is how you cook the flowers; this is how you wash your hair with chamomile so it stays blond, always blond;
this is how you say, sí, papá, would you like more coffee? 
this is how you sit in a chair; this is how you do not straddle a chair; this is how you keep your hair long even if you played Joan of Arc at the school pageant, even if a saint had boy's hair; 
this is how you cross your ankles under your skirt; this is how you hold your back straight and your neck too; smile and look down when los señores talk to you; this is how you say yes; this is how you walk up stairs; this is how you keep your voice low; this is how you get a man to ask you; this is how you hesitate before the sí; this is how you smile at a boy and say, girls don't ever climb a tree; this is how you ask for help picking up a large package, even if your arms are stronger than the skinny boy's;

this is how you curl arms with your compañera when walking down the street: at the elbow, your hand on your side and hers on hers; this is how you kiss the air when your cheek touches hers; kiss the air and never her skin; this is how you share a bed; this is how you keep the camisón from rolling higher than your ankles; this is how you say goodnight; this is how you face the wall; this is how you keep your knees together and your hands to yourself. this is how you look away when in the morning she takes the nightie off and washes and splashes the entire bathroom floor, this is how you do not watch her breasts bobbing and dancing, wet and sweet; this is how you do not show your breasts;
this is how you step back when her lips come at yours, smiling lush and open and inviting. this is how you say, I don't like girls. this is how you push her back. this is how you say no. this is how you never share a bed. Never again.
this is how you avoid turning into the manflora you are bent on becoming.

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gay/lesbian, fiction

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Once again, Renata, your cool, reserved approach makes your observations intriguing. I have little interest in the subject but your approach is stylized enough to first, bring me in and then keep me reading. And for all its technical accomplishment, the post still packs an emotional punch that's all the more effective for being understated. Brava.
So intriguing and insightful!
Thank you, friends, for reading and commenting!
Renata, as mentioned elsewhere, I hope this is seen by all who need to see it. Well said, in a Mona Lisa smile sort of way.

Well done, for one never conflicted, I was living it. Thank you for sharing. R
Poetic and rhythmic, sad and angry all at once. Nicely done.
"Bent on becoming"?.....just "are"?
This is exquisite.
I can feel the unnatural embodying, the tension in holding, with every word.
Intriguing is right. Going to google "manflora" shortly.
I second Jeremiah.
You are a discovery to me.
Jeremiah said it best.

this is just so good...
I love Jamaica Kincaid, and I loved this! R.
Thank you so much, all of you, for reading! You are all very kind.
Fernsy, "manflora" is a word from my childhood. It can mean lesbian, gay man, or hermaphrodite, depending on the context.
Deborah, isn't Jamaica Kincaid amazing?
thx for favoriting me!