As the flag is folded (uncovering your coffin) the red is tucked away --hidden from memory.
The widow wears black and the men salute,
but I am torn by this act of gendered remembrance.
When I was young I wore the skirt and tucked my long hair into bobby pins to meet your expectations.
(GI Jane was a fantasy.)
Today I wear the skin of the man I've become.
(This ceremony will never be mine.)
I learned to love a life of inside out and upside down
where transgressions make sense
and I no longer fall In line.
The bugle sounds taps and 7 guns 3 times sound silence
over the field that you now call home.
I watch from afar
knowing that your vision of me and this man I am could never stand side by side
on a day like this.
Once, your children called me (Aunty)
but today they don't recognize me with my buzz cut mustache and tattoos.
The man I am challenged the man you always were.
In schools everywhere the students stand in boy lines and girl lines waiting to hear me tell my story.
(I wonder if the teachers see the irony.)
Somewhere I remembered in one of those lines I found myself
while you stood next to me asking who wore the pants in my family.
(I know that pants can never make the man.)
As the sun sets over your newly covered grave
I bow my head and promise you that I won't hide the red.
Brandon L. Beck, PhD, is a queer, trans man from San Marcos, Texas. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing in 2009 from Texas State University and his PhD in Community Education in 2014. Dr. Beck, through poetry and education, works to improve the awareness of and availability for trans rights. His website is www.transteacher.com.