(Describe a First)

The air was hollow and carried the light scent of disinfectant. There was no clock to watch – they never put clocks in waiting rooms. So I alternated between starting at the tile floor and the bag you had left next to me. You didn’t even take your wallet with you when they called your name. But I sat in reception, thighs sticking to the merciless plastic as my heart bobbed in my chest. Intermittent palpitations reminded me why we were there.

I just kept thinking of your voice and the softness of your skin and how you’d left me there, entrusting me with all of your worldly belongings and the memories of who you were before today. Despite you not even putting me down as an emergency contact.

I was not bitter, I was afraid. When I followed you down the hallway on our way out, I was afraid. I am still trying to differentiate femininity from the female and I’m not sure which quality of your’s I’m mourning.

In the morning, I looked at you, and everything was the same. This morning, I looked at you, and everything was the same.

But I still brace myself, anticipating your disappearance.



I found myself in a basement

In her arms or lap or eyes

Because the others dared me to, or I dared myself to


Then her lips were on mine and my heart was all the way up here

Threatening to give me away, to burst from my 12 year old body


I’ve heard of many first kisses as memorable and meaningful as rubbing shoulders with a stranger on the train

Mine was more like kicking up from the curb and peddling a bike for the first time without training wheels


Never wanting to go back

Only going back when it seemed easier to walk than explain to others how it felt to fly

I am not afraid of love but I find myself afraid of what my love means to others


After all of this time


I stopped caring


I took the elegance of another age, folded it like a handkerchief, and placed it in my pocket

I didn’t want to wear it, wave it, or make it an indicator of my trajectory


I am coming to peace with what I know to be my own

Something that does not look like old yearbook photos or a mirror’s interpretation of physical existence


I am molting layers

Like winter and spring shook hands over my body

12.08.2017 (Birthday Blues)

Hope filters like sand through my rib cage

Sedimented bedrock of being

I’m seeing myself, or seeing the portions of myself I can

Not like extremity but like facade


(Are we in love? Are you in love with my performance of character?)


I am on the train, heavy eyelids, heavy backpack, full weight of responsibility hanging off one shoulder

I am so, so tired


Depression is curled up in my lap, purring, happy to be at home

Despite 450mg of deterrent flowing through my veins

I think this is forever sickness


(Do you imagine my purple thighs grape jelly kissed? Blueberry jam?)


I am so sick of instability, of the up-down

Of my brain waves, my neurotransmitter cocktail, tilted hellish, spilled

It’s in my lap


Am I holding onto it or is it attached to me?

I don’t want to be this but I can’t let go


I remember telling him

I remember saying


I told him I was dying

And I put it in pounds

And he told me he was almost impressed

And then we laughed and smoked a bowl and he took off my clothes and I forgot that I was deteriorating because he always had this way of making my nothing feel like too much


He turned a blind eye, everything my thighs were saying didn’t matter

My wrists were not loud enough for him

So I painted myself indifferent, if indifferent is the color of hospital walls


He called me a few times

So he could ask me about my body

My hipbone rib cage spine and no ass to speak of

My no tits to speak of


Even when I left him, he didn’t leave (and I didn’t make him)

He was already moved into my body and mind, key twisting into my sternum like I open only for him, I open only for people like him

That my definition is the one that he wrote

The one that he carved into his own leg


I told him it was over and it didn’t graze his ear

I told him that we were stuck, and he cried until we both did, and I was weak enough to kiss away his tears

I told him it was killing me and he said he was almost impressed


When I was a kid I wanted glasses


This was read as school age hypochondriac, finger on the pulse of her own anxieties or like

You just probably want attention or like

You probably just think they’re cute


I think I always just wanted to be pretty

There’s this scene from Princess Diaries where the main character takes off her glasses and becomes a princess

I think I wanted the glasses just so I could take them off again


Prove that the underneath wasn’t so bad after all

Prove that the grass was greener,

Or at least that the color of my eyes was a little more blue jay than storm


But my brain didn’t know how to process this

So I named the desire glasses, and never thought much about how glasses are like a disguise

And that I’ve wanted one since I was old enough to know what it was


And though I’d argue that a girl in a prom dress is more camouflaged than a kid on Halloween

I think that particular kind of costume never fit quite right


Femininity never fit me quite right

It was a skirt that I was always yanking down to hit the tips of my fingers, like the dress code required

Or a bra that didn’t round out my chest in the prescribed way

It was seven days, always seven days, of a reminder that I was not living up to my own definition


But yesterday, my dark roots and acne told the mirror that they thought I was growing into myself

The mirror laughed, like only that kind of glass can — in glittering, shimmering waves


I was not discouraged, because though we are old acquaintances we have never seen eye to eye

I have since stopped trying to internalize our relationship

It has never been about me, it’s always been about angles and lighting and the physics of perception and I have given up on math


I don’t want to be a Woman

I want Woman to be me

I want Woman to walk in my shoes


Feel the friction of the ballet flat or stiletto on the back of Her heel

Feel the dig of the brassiere and the dig of the stares

Bear the awareness that She is object or She is nothing


And then I want to break Her, until Her criteria crumble like the powder in a compact

Falling into my lap, only to be shaken onto the hardwood floor

I want Her to mean nothing without me


She will bear a unique name that sounds an awful lot like rain hitting an umbrella overhead

Suspended from impact

Although a glance at my unshaven legs may still elicit the bitter hiss of some 1950s propaganda within my own mind


I decided to major in gender studies instead of self-deprecation

Stop spending ice cream money on cigarettes

Think about things more controversial than mirrors


The girl in the Princess Diaries let femininity limpen her hair and cover her legs, take off her glasses

She gave up her own sight so that she would be easier on everyone else’s


This week I got my first pair of glasses

My eyes are open