The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: BABE by Dorothy Chan

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from BABE by Dorothy Chan, released by Diode Editions in 2021. 

Triple Sonnet for Oversexed and Overripe and Overeager

He asks me if I own any thigh high boots
	for the home movie of our dreams, so we can
have our Pam and Tommy moment, unleaked
	and let’s go old school on a tripod camera
then get drunk on a boat, me in a red one-piece,
	nipples popping out—let me put a Cherry Coke
over them—and I tell him I have absolutely
	no grace as a woman. I can’t walk in heels.
I hate florals—how innovative for spring.
	I’ll do my makeup in five minutes or under,
because what more do you need than a good lip
	for pleasure and a rosy cheek for treasure?
I’d rather be kicking it in Air Force 1s with
	plaid skirts and sweat dresses or go ultra-sexy

	with lingerie as outerwear in public, looking
like I have some place better to be than here,
	and isn’t the key to life to walk into the room
like you’re the most important person. I lace up
	my kicks, put on a red plaid dress, from the noughties
era of Betsey Johnson reliving her Club Kid days,
	hot pink bra underneath, thinking about how
tomboys in anime never wear their uniforms
	properly—there’s always an unladylike bit:
an untucked shirt, an unbuttoned blazer, a loose
	tie, sneakers instead of Oxfords, and of course,
she’s the one in the group voted most fun to be
	around. Don’t we all want to be the best time.
I think about what it even means to be ladylike

as a woman. Once upon a time, my father
	told me to be a little lady, in the middle of
a department store shoe section. I still hate
	him for that. Lady is code for woman to be
controlled. I cannot be controlled. I will not
	be managed—I’ll roll around in shorts and crop
tops for the rest of my life—the whole womanchild
	aesthetic of dressing down for success
or I don’t care what you think about me,
	because I’m a wonder, and I don’t care about you.
I own the room. I overline my lips, throw on
	a pair of boy shorts and a mesh bralette,
ready for the home video of fantasies—
	it’s my moment of splashing out of the water.

Photo courtesy of Bill Hoepner, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Dorothy Chan (she/they) is the author of most recently, BABE (Diode Editions, 2021), Revenge of the Asian Woman (Diode Editions, 2019), and Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018). They were a 2020 and 2014 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship finalist, a 2020 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry, and a 2019 recipient of the Philip Freund Prize in Creative Writing from Cornell University. Their work has appeared in POETRYThe American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere. Chan is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Editor Emeritus of Hobart, Book Reviews Co-Editor of Pleiades, and Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Honey Literary Inc., a 501(c)(3) literary arts organization.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.


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