personal, queer

[poem] “when did you know?” and other questions I won’t want to answer

“when did you know?” and other things I won’t want to answer

maybe it was when, age 3, I told my sister
“I don’t want to be a girl”
“why’s that?”
“they have babies and I don’t want to have a baby”

instead of mother I’d play boss,
my granny as my employee.
I fired her a lot.
the performance of power was intoxicating.
but my lisa frank coloring books and princess costumes
were fine too.

or maybe when at a time unspecified
before age 7
I looked in the bathroom mirror–
freckle faced with gap teeth too big for my mouth
–and felt my Self fly out of my body,
estranged from the physical,
uncomfortable with the confrontation
of this young female child looking back.

“this is what everyone sees when they look at me?”

(right then, somewhere in history
the soul
of some shopkeeper stoned to death
in front of his beloved wife
for a crime he does not comprehend;
of some soldier killed in a war he never signed up to fight;
of some journeyman falling off the edge of a cliff;
of some young sheltered man whose brilliance
was never seen, dead
upon leaving his family to seek his own power,
collapsed in the cold mountain snow;
gasped in fear
and hesitant relief.

the privilege of the feminine, at least just this once.)

maybe it was age 9,
“granny, why don’t any boys LIKE me?
why do they always like
[the quietest
most feminine girls
in my class]?”
“because molly,
you should learn this now,
boys don’t like girls who speak their minds”

and when she told me “weird is a good thing;
normal is boring”

maybe it was age 12, weird as ever,
on the cusp of embrace,
entrenched in an obsession
with billie joe armstrong,
dressed up in drag to look like my idol,
pleased and discomfited by what this
might mean.
but preoccupied by the hope that one day
I’d grow into a jessica rabbit hourglass
and people might call me sexy.

maybe it was age 13
when a boy and his friend
every day on my way to french class
would snicker and whisper
“dyke”
when I walked past.
I swallowed it down,
changed my route to class,
and vowed to never prove them right.

maybe it was how
no matter how long my hair
how high my voice
how pretty my clothes
I felt like I was violating
every girl at a sleepover party
by virtue of breathing
and having eyes.

or maybe when I’d say, laughingly, to my best friend in college
in response to every photo of myself:

“I look like a little boy in my sister’s clothes”

but how dressing the little boy in his own boy clothes
with his own boy haircut
didn’t quite do the trick.

it is gray space where I am.
soul out of body looking in mirrors
whose reflection is always just slightly
beyond recognition.

soul hanging quietly above
the scene of a now young
adult
dressed in coral and royal blue garb,
the image of the 21st century secretary.

I am 12th house fire, and
these words
these clothes
these bones
this flesh
cannot express the infinity of what I am.
not this time around,
not ever.

they/them
thank you

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