Femme Vers/e

For every person at the gay bar who reads me
as straight, another arrow punctures my spine,
quivering under the waxing crescent
neon. I am gutted and ground
into a fine paste of body parts,
what mascara is made of, thorax

and proboscis and antennae.
Classicists say that Artemis was chaste
but we know they really mean femme,
that ancient weavers leave out the hot butch
looming unwoven just off the tapestry’s edge.
Artemis also would have hidden

a knife in her boot to go to the ATM alone
while her friends stayed at the bar.
She also would have hurried through the streets
with a fistful of keys, no different than through a forest
with darts, safest in pools of light, penumbral
street lamps, traffic signals blinking red.

Straight men hover outside the club,
a wake of featherless vultures.
They hiss you’re too pretty
to be a dyke. They hunch closer,
grunt I bet I can change your mind.
Confirmed: we’re not real

until we’re picked apart, flesh
and bone. Classicists say that Artemis
murdered her nymphs. We know
this really means she turned them
into pools of light, safe from prying eyes,
the original invisible femmes, just passing through.

I dart into the bathroom
to readjust the target
bullseyed on my lower back.
I arch an eyebrow, paint my lips
into a bow. I check my purse
for the trappings of what we carry.

It’s all there:

the vials of rose oil,

the spoils of pelts, the powder