Poems

Accidental

My fingernails are dirty
and there's blood on my thumb
where I've torn into myself
with impatient teeth
and in this quiet room
with ticking clock and outside
airplane passing over
and the electric hum of my lamp
and a cricket's steady strum
Inside this solitude my cells
are held -- just so -- arm's length
from each other, holding space
in the way of witches
existing with visceral intent.
The body constructs herself
from base matter and will.
I am the evolutionary
accident of consciousness.

This is another in the “prayer for today” series, which you might remember is just a bunch of poem/prayers from my journal where I ponder questions that never seem to have answers.

There is a question that has hovered over my shoulder my whole life, which is basically: What even is all this? What am I? Why is all of this happening?

My body has decided to be a woman, but my mind isn’t particularly attached to gender. My lived experience is that of a cis woman, someone assigned female at birth who feels that identity is right or at least close enough. But I’ve always been a little uncomfortable and a little out of place in traditional feminine roles and settings. I studied books about girls and women to decide how to go about acting like one. As a kid, I had one called My Crazy Cousin Courtney in which a small town girl meets her cousin from the big city, and together they learn how to do things like put on lip gloss and flirt with boys. I literally took notes. Interestingly, this “Courtney” character was also the first time I saw a depiction of anxiety in a book. Courtney has panic attacks. Me too. Is that a statement on gender performance? Unsure. Probably.

Over time I have deconstructed and re-assembled my own performance of gender and identity in a variety of ways. Lately, I feel more like, “Oh, yes, this is who I am. This feels right,” but mostly because “this” is a very amorphous thing. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I have gotten comfortable with the fact that none of this makes sense and everything is in flux.