Hilda Weiss


Gender is who we are—behaviors and the subtle internal leanings behind them. It brings with it the opportunity to recognize, explore, and appreciate.




When you hold the hand out
palm down and flat
to see the long shape of the fingers
and the nails—remnants of shell—
you are a girl.

When you hold the palm up
with the fingers curled in
to check the clean, hard surface
of nails, yours, useful as tools,
the gesture tells 
you’re a boy.

It’s a game, they said.
Look at your nails.
I remember their laughter.
All of us, girls, 
except my hands.



She was chopping onions.
Her big fingers just like a man’s,
and the butcher knife slicing machine fast.
We’ll wear boys’ clothes. No jewelry.
I kept grating parmesan.
Train at 6 a. m. Nashville.
Day after tomorrow.

Both 16, we poured red wine
from her father’s open bottle
and drank a toast to Joan,
our Kentucky alibi.
Hair pinned up. Hats
pulled down. Blue jeans.
Loose shirts. No bras.
No more white gloves. We left early,
the sky pale as my fingernails

trimmed short; their polish gone.


This Time

When I finish the wine,
I know you won’t come.
I lie down on the bed
naked under my shirt—

the loose one that you gave me.
I touch myself there.
I do that.
Then I sleep 

a small nap.
When I wake my jaw aches
as though I’ve held
the reins of a horse with my teeth.
The horse got away.




Hilda Weiss has been published or has work forthcoming in journals such as Rattle, Salamander, Askew and Margie. She is the co-founder of www.Poetry.LA, a website featuring videos of poets and poetry venues in Southern California. A fourth generation Californian, she lives and writes in Santa Monica.