thesis: here gender is elusive, if not slippery as silt

after Whitney Houston’s video for I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990)
why cut the silhouette / shadow sharp in the dressing room / why hide the frame / why reach to one’s own reflection / while the object of desire burns / why the fingers fisting into / a nebulous wet / a Whitney in white / suited for dyke bar / why the throwback / to Dietrich dancing the line / when dancing the line / is how i learned to thirst / and then from her arrogant swagger across the club / suggestive stare / between the blonde / and the blue light / every hand gloved in ivory / belongs to a femme here / gender is elusive / if not slippery as silt / and why not this hand / against her wrist / and its pull / to performance / three versions of oneself / supreme femme to infinity / five slated mirrors / singing the shadow to form / still / softened jaw / something unsaid / face lit by black / the fact that it could be anyone / proves that it could be anyone / still / dancing the line / Whitney whips a bike / tilts a sapphic smile / towards a setting moon

Cover art: “Labbraccio del Mondo” by Delta N.A.

m. mick powell

m. mick powell (she/they) is a queer Black Cape Verdean femme, an artist, an Aries, and the author of the chapbook chronicle the body (University of South Carolina, 2019). A 2023 Tin House Resident and professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, mick enjoys chasing waterfalls and being in love. Keep up with them at www.mickpowellpoet.com and on IG @mickmakesmagic.art