My Life of Poetry
C. K. Storm
If someone called you it, what would you do?
If they took your name and changed it around to fit their idea of you, how would you feel?
I've been told to swallow the bile that enters my throat at the mention of it.
I've been told to hold my hands over my lips when someone misgenders me, after all, we all have to start somewhere.
"Maybe they just didn't notice, after all, you look like a girl"
And I wonder if my friend is trying to put a bandage over this broken heart while also breaking it.
You look like a girl, any wonder why mirrors have become another enemy of mine.
I sit in the bathroom binding a chest I only like on some days
Days when I feel that I can stomach being called a girl
Being she'd and her'd so much I loose myself
Days when I don't mind blending in with the world around me
Being on the binary
The first day I was called it I felt my heart sink down into the soles of my feet
and I could barely move
It was then that I realized
I'm not real
You will not read about me in history books
You will not dissect my body in health books
Science books will not have me listed
I am the invisible human
A soon to be legend
A current horror story
I've never been too comfortable in my own body,
and when I meet people I'm made to be super aware of my body
Don't stand too straight, your boobs will seem big,
Don't slouch too much, you'll look like an old woman
The Binder isn't working, they can see
Did they really just stare at my chest
I watch their eyes glaze over my body when I correct their misgendering
I say not girl, they say, "God made you a woman, that's what you are."
And I have to wonder if God has a sense of humor
That maybe he laughs at me as I try to normalize what I am
Who I am
Last night I realized I never wanted to play Russian roulette
But one day I put the bullet in the chamber and pulled
When I came out of the closet I was met with
bullies, and death threats, and people turning away
I learned God's love only reaches so far
or they didn't have it at all
Then I started thinking
What if God is queer
What if God himself is queer
I mean does God have a penis or vagina
Would he be asexual
Does he love all of so much he's polyamorous
I don't know if God is queer, hates me or has a flaming pit set for me
but I know that I'm queer
and I'm tired
I'm tired of rolling eyes, deep sighs, the walking away
Every time I mention my pronouns
I don't live in the blue or pink box
I don’t live in the black or white
I’m stuck seeing the full picture
I don’t belong in a world where
Your only option is to be what they called you at birth
and deviating from that road can be
a matter of life or death
Don’t believe me, then ask the graves of
Yazmin Payne, Penny Proud, Mercedes Williamson, Leelah Alcorn
or the thousands that have been killed since the beginning
You think my identity, and who I am
is not more important than life
Well here we go
I have a queer agenda for you
to make it out alive
You learn very quickly, don’t say penis, don’t say vagina. Cute terms will be put in their place such as p-p we-we or that thing down there so as to never have those parts uncovered in words. Those are private. It is private when he holds you and you will not learn cute terms for it. He won’t give you the pleasure. You will bow your head in silence and a loss for words no one will understand. You will not understand.
Seal your lips. Remember that duct tape is useful for many things. Place imaginary duct tape over your lips and cover it with the makeup of a fake smile. Allow the words to crowd the tip of your tongue and then swallow. Do not allow any words to escape your lips. Everyone’s life depends on it. “They’ll never believe you.” “We’ll get in trouble.” “I’ll kill your family.” Tape those words to the mirror of your mind, and never look at yourself without simultaneously watching the way his lips curl around the syllables. No one can know the mask you wear is fake.
Try to erase the memory of his hands, her hands, of their hands. Make sure no other hands follow that path. Fear hands. Sleep in your bed with him right next to you. Your mind is playing tricks on you. He can’t get you there. Run under the covers right when you turn off the light, don’t turn off the lights. Sleep with the lights on so that you can see the shadows above your head in order to react. Don’t react.
Smile. Let your buck teeth, your crooked teeth, your pearly whites show. You’re hiding too much, a smile calms others thoughts. When they ask you how you’re doing do not say, “My vagina is burning, and my chest is hurting, but that pain will hopefully fade in a couple hours.” Instead say “fine, how are you?” No one wants to hear about the pain behind your locked doors.
Know that you will hear “it’s okay to speak up” and then be silenced once the words escape your lips. They don’t have to tell you to shut up just like he didn’t have to tell you when he raped you. Remember the feeling of the scream digging into your throat the moment his body makes contact with yours, and how no one could hear you. No one will hear you. No one wants to hear you.
Run. Run from everything that follows you. Hide from the pain of memories that won’t leave your mind alone. Scar up your body so there is a visual representation of what he is doing to you. Avoid your dreams because they are tainted with his blood and no longer seem real.
Tell. Tell anyone you can. Be an open book. Show your scars. Beg for some rest from the endless years of running. Cry until your tears are enough to help a country survive a drought. Feel free enough to unlock the cage you are in and finally feel the sun on your withered skin.
When they tell you it didn’t happen bite your tongue. Memorize the taste of blood in case opening your voice caused you to forget it. Remember that crimes committed against a person are considered less important when they involve genetalia. Remember that he said this would happen, and you didn’t believe him. Believe him.
They will make up excuses. You were a troubled youth, you hung out with the wrong crowd, you’re a guy that doesn’t happen to guys, but that couldn’t have happened, people were always with you as if an attack on your body had to be in public in order to actually happen. Be ready for the comparison homeless people fake being homeless just like victims of assault.
While they come up with a checklist of ways to discredit your lived experience they will miss your sweaty palms anxiously rubbing together, pulsating leg, night sweats, fast beating heart, and your tendency to be in fight or flight mode 90% of the time. They will miss your excessive questioning of if that guy brushed you on purpose, if he’s following you, if you should have just stayed home. You will find they do not understand a four letter acronym PTSD.
Swallow. Take deep breaths, in and out. This is the coping/self-soothing technique you learn in therapy. The one that is meant to calm your nerves. Calm the part of you that triggers at the sound of shoes like his, the smell of him. Even the look of a car he drove. When you have to leave class because a teacher finds a joke about a form of rape funny, remember to breathe.
You will wonder if speaking up was worth it. If the words from family, from friends, from strangers that want to silence you are worth speaking up. You will feel backed into a corner and a choice between silence and speaking up. Between gaining your voice, and keeping those close to you. You will find your party of friends and family may dwindle, and you’ll ask yourself if it’s worth it.
It’s worth it. Gaining your voice is the only way to realize your potential to fly. You will find people reaching to clip your wings, but fly, you are free. Do not deny your body what it needs to live. Speak up because
She will learn quickly to say penis and vagina. He will learn the words to what is happening to his private parts. They will not be alone, and they will understand. They have a voice, and can use it to speak up too.