These Southern Afternoons

by Maura Alia Badji

settle so thick, we wade home to lounge, listless on the balcony.
Below the neighbor-parade beckons; we watch for hours, guess each others’ histories. On rainy days the opera lady sings Carmen, nude on a rusted fire escape. The transsexuals across the way practice the gender they will wear forever once the operation’s done. Trina paces the curb nightly, discomfort radiating from his size 12 beige pumps to the curve of matching leather handbag jammed in the crook of his elbow.

His wig is Dynel, color: Frivolous Fawn. I want to tell him he can be any woman: Scarlet, Sophia, Diana, Bridget Bardot, and Audrey Hepburn. OK, maybe not Audrey; he’s a big guy. But why has he chosen to be Carol Burnett’s Mama? I want to tell him what he’s in for when he becomes she. I want to warn about the endless rounds of leg-shaving, brow-plucking, working out to smooth bumps, checking out the competition, comparing, shaping, excising, erasing. But the rules are different for newcomers to the Land Of Female. His roommate goes in for gold lame’, gets away with it. For months, I wave as Trina passes, till the day I rise, meet his gaze, her eyes, my face reflected, our hair mirrored waves, silver trim of twin bathing suits winking across the expanse of water-heavy air.


Maura Alia Badji is a teacher, writer, poet, blogger, and activist. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of WA, where she was also an Editorial Assistant for the Seattle Review. Her website can be found at