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
                                                                   a man.



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.