white tees

i can never keep white shirts clean
and yet i keep buying them
as though they’re a part
of a uniform
and without at least
a white vee or two in
my arsenal, my queer card
may be torn away

the binge began
long ago, during high school
when being a young dyke blossoming
meant brandishing my flat chest
from behind A-shirts (please,
don’t call them “wifebeaters” or
“boy beaters” or link them
to any form of beating)
and then with college
came the white vees,
the deeper the better,
with a leather jacket for
extra credit

and now
six years later
i have a collection
of stained white shirts
that i barely ever wear
and a few still-clean
white shirts
that i’m afraid to

there is nothing
especially clean
about whiteness

from now on, i vow
no more white tees;
bright colors only, please.

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