by: Andy Karol
She said, “You are the best boyfriend.”
I said that was great because I never made the best girlfriend,
or wife, for that matter,
always teetering on a ledge between the pressure on my sternum
of rules I never fully understood
and the beats within that were drumming me to resuscitation
to the person I used to be,
before I was a girl, before I became that boy.
Yeah, life has a funny way of making people into beings
then forcing them into what it thinks they should be.
Well, life, I have something to tell you.
I have been paying attention to your lessons,
learning that “boxers or briefs?”
was more than a question to ask the boys.
I learned that pronouns match the sophistication of a person’s anger,
not their understanding of who, or where, I am at this time.
I learned that my gender is a part of who I am,
not parts of what I am, between my legs, or beneath my shirt.
I learned so much more, but the most of what I learned
was that I still see Orion the same way every summer night
that I had in all of my years growing up,
and the cracks are all the same that I step over
in order to not hurt the backs of mothers.
And lovers, they all know me best,
in the dark with no lights on,
but in the light, I’ve been called many names.
At least four times a year, a kid at the park will look up at me
and ask, “Are you a boy or a girl?”
I want to yell to their parents that this genius-child may be small
but they are someone to look up to,
asking questions, teaching us that the best thing we can do is to ask.
Their worst response has never gone beyond a shrug and a skip away.
Parents are learning their rules and hate onto the teachers,
speaking before their hand is even raised and called upon,
standing at blackboards they scapegoat into binaries of good and bad.
But the chalk in your hand has run out,
and fingernails run down their spines as goosebumps
as real as glass that cuts into flesh.
This I can swear you do when you cut him down for playing dolls
and tell her that she needs her own school just so she can be heard in a room of boys
because her voice is not strong enough to match theirs.
Then hear mine, because I once was that girl and still am pieces of her,
and I’ve found those pieces of him that add to my whole today,
like talking on the phone for an hour while I searched for it-
it was always there.
I was talking too much and never really listening,
always searching and never looking,
but I have found me at last.
I am free.
I am free.