often the shadows draped along crevices feel more real than the pale
meat of my thigh. i am drowning in the turbulent wake
of reality, but a constellation of pinpricks unfolds across
my skin. this will make you a man. & i am
without a body, unmoored & weightless. because
what is a man with no boyhood? i am shaky
foundations streaked with grief.
wherever i go, the fields of poppies die.
& from between the shriveled stems, the wrong
memories scamper in & out, curious & too real.
i fight the urge to pin them to a tray & discover
their anatomy. because it’s time to suffocate a myth:
a quick, confident smile not slashed across the ghost
of a young boy. laughter never erupting
on the riverbank. this will make you
but my name appears like an angel: alien
& soft. too many eyes far too comfortable
in their sockets. too many instances of me
to count. one & infinite, each gazing into
brine. my name appears like an angel: too
sudden. too bright to bury strangers in. they
come & go, always above ground. treading
packed stone too hard to carve. my name
appears like an angel: speaking in distorted
& lost hymns, too loud to truly hear. too
many syllables, all garbled & strange. speak
my name: i am too naked to stay hidden.
i practice dipping a toe in my sadness, as if i could feel
the siren song. i timidly cup my hands around happiness growing
as fast as my hair. this is not to be confused with nourishment.
if only i was fed forgiveness, that fatty meal
the color of a fish’s belly. if only i’d been
properly mourned—a young girl, eager
to scar, dissipating like the sunlight. if only
i’d been permitted to rest in my bones, curled
in the warmth of my own marrow. this will make you a man,
& you might sing.