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Two Poems by Natasha Dennerstein

Two Poems by Natasha Dennerstein

Miss Wrongbody

I was three or perhaps four years old whenI realized I had been born into the wrong body, and I should really be a girl. I remember the moment well, and it is the earliest memory of my life. — Jan Morris, Condundrum, 1974


So you have your tits “done,” and stay in hospital

overnight, welcoming the Elixir of Forget, relishing

the falling, falling of anesthesia. You wake up


feeling like you’ve been run down by a Mack truck,

with tight, sliced agony across your chest,

bandaged like an Egyptian mummy, but


you can’t help smiling when you look down

and see a bulge where your bust should be.

Recovery is painful, especially running across the


street with those extra pounds in front: you

have to relearn your balance. You are delighted with

your new cleavage, figurehead of femininity. You


contemplate further surgery: nose, Adam’s Apple,

vagina. You have no use for the appendage you were born with

and fantasize of a future where you’re all Woman,


when you no longer have

your mother’s features

and your father’s fixtures.



Give It Away


I don't want my Mercedes sports coupe—ice blue—

or my three bedroom condo with ocean views

you can have it, too.

I'm giving my designer clothes to you

my Versaces and my Guccis that still fit:

I don't want any of that shit.

Take the lot at bargain basement prices: free.

Take my designer shoes, my Jimmy Choos

my Bed, Bath, and Beyonds

my curling wands: I've got two.

I'm gifting a signed Warhol print—condition: mint

and an artisanal, macramé wall hanging or two.

Do you know what, I'm giving away

my titanium hips, my silicone tits

my microchips and all that shit.

I don't even want the skin I'm in

it's been inked and lasered

to within an inch of its life and

resurfaced, burnt, cut with a knife.

All the sunspots have been burnt off:

take it, use it, feed it to the dogs.

I don't need it any more.

I'm stripping my assets down to the core

to reveal my authentic self

in yogic gesture of Buddhist rebirth.

You can have my diamond engagement ring

three karats, no inclusions, clear as a bell

and lots of other stuff as well.

I'm not going to be a collector anymore,

I'm going off to a mountain top

to survive on granola and a bowl of rice

an occasional apple and chamomile tea.

I've got a whole lot of books I don't read

I'll pack them up in boxes

or give them to the library.

I've got a set of bentwood chairs, Viennese:

If you want them, they're yours: take them please.

Want some Leica cameras, designer watches,

Russian nesting dolls, Japanese lacquerwork boxes

a microwave, a crockpot, an iPad

a set of six fucking steak knives?

I'm getting rid of my hair to a good home

also my acrylic nails, my reconditioned liver

my kidneys and various other organs,

one eye and a heart, in good order, pristine.

I'm going to dance around in my bones for a while

then totter off in a skeleton boogie

to the graveyard club or the mountain top.

I won't even need the granola or rice

the begging bowl or the saffron robes.

I'll be stripped down to nothing

and I'll be leaving only footprints

and you can have those, too.

I'll be the fashion-conscious ashes to ashes

and dust to dust. Dust or bust. 








Publishing credits: "Miss Wrongbody" first appeared in the Dennerstein' chapbook Seahorse (Nomadic Press, 2017); and "Give It Away" first appeared in Dennerstein's poetry collection Triptych Caliform (Norfolk Press, 2016).

Photo credit: Jose Alberto Guzman Colon

Photo credit: Jose Alberto Guzman Colon

Natasha Dennerstein was born in Melbourne, Australia, to a family originating in Belarus. She worked as a psychiatric nurse for many years, which gave her an interesting perspective on the human condition. She has an MFA from San Francisco State University. Natasha has had poetry published in many journals including Landfall, Snorkel, Shenandoah, Bloom, Transfer, Red Light Lit, Spoon River Poetry Review and Foglifter. Her collections Anatomize (2015) and Triptych Caliform (2016) were published by Norfolk Press in San Francisco, who will also be publishing her novella-in-verse About a Girl this Fall. Her recent chapbook Seahorse (2017) was published by Nomadic Press in Oakland.