The Fine Art of Butch
By Claudia Mauro

The womanly art of being butch is the ability to
pass yourself off as exactly yourself.  This is done
primarily by identifying and then eliminating the
difference between what you say and what you
do.  That difference, (between what you say and
what you do, what you love and what you
embrace), equals roughly, who you are. Eliminate
that difference, and voila you are yourself.

To be butch you must wear your weather in your
walk, open shoulder and sure hip.  A butch knows
her scars are beautiful.  They are the proof she
needs of a grace unseen that knits the wound
between who she loves and who she forgives. A
butch has no ability to pass (either way), and has
lost the desire to do so.

This is what she knows about fear.  We all die in
battle whether or not the life we live is our life.

To be butch you must stop apologizing to
strangers for lingering too long among the living
parts of the world.  Because like all women, you
can try to be a good girl, but you can never be
good enough.  This is why a butch laughs with her
mouth and thighs open.  A butch is the out loud

A butch does not argue the relevance of gender
between women, whether this is passe or has
cachet.  (In fact, she rarely speaks French at all.)
She especially does not argue this with a femme,
knowing it will annoy them both and waste time that
could have been spent appreciating how three inch
heels accentuate the grace lines of a calf in silk. If
gender must be discussed, she does so only with a big,
sissy, nelly boy, who like her, cannot pass.

A butch lives in exile from a country that does not
exist.  Her body is her only home, her voice, one
whole nation.  To be butch you must understand
the power of words, and refuse to let your heart
be murdered by adjectives.  You must know the
value of story and carry a library in each clear eye.
The fine art of butch is to take your seat at the fire
and unfold your own story--then toss it in, to rise
as heat and light.

From Reading The River
published by Whiteaker Press 1999


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