Clumsiness

I fall for lies
when they are fed to me
on silver spoons from silver tongues,
even when they leave a metallic taste in my throat
that reminds me of coming rain
and storm clouds.
I fall for people
when they convince me to,
landing often beside closed arms and harsh words
and waking in a graveyard
of friendships and promises;
it’s my own fault
for assuming someone would catch me.

But the thing about being clumsy is
I don’t just fall,
I crash.

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Ask Me Tomorrow

“You will find someone one day
who makes you feel worthwhile –
who convinces you
that you can move mountains,
pull tides,
ebb and flow through life
easily, with a grace you never knew you had.

“You will find something one day
that will remind you that you are a warrior,
a goddess,
a fucking hurricane with a purpose
and that purpose is to exist,
to bless everyone with your incredible self
and to care for them with a fierce passion
they never knew you could conjure.

“You will find some time one day
to forgive yourself of past mistakes and bad intentions
and to remind yourself
that you were never the problem
but rather, often self-love
was the solution
you never knew you were capable of.”

– excerpts from a pep talk

Girl, Unwanted

They told me
at age four
that I could be whatever I wanted to be
and without knowing how to read
the fine print of that statement,
I believed them.

They asked me
at age ten
what my favourite colour was
and I was ashamed to say pink
so I filled my mouth with every colour of the rainbow
to sweeten the taste of my lie.

They told me
at age thirteen
that I should be grateful
men three times my age whistled at me from cars
like a dog –
it was a compliment
wearing a frightening mask.

They asked me
at age sixteen
on first dates:
are you a tomboy or a girly girl?
As if there wasn’t a million other in-between people
I could have been.

They asked me
at age nineteen
if I was “like other girls”
and I flipped my hair and told them proudly,
guiltily, as I betrayed my sisters,
that no, I was not.

They tell me now,
at age twenty-two,
that I can still be whatever I want to be,
but all I can do
is choke on my anger
and hope one day I never have to regurgitate that lie
to my daughters.

Rape Poem

This wasn’t what she had learned about
in every fairytale her father read her
each night before bed.
This knight in shining armour
had bad breath
and worse intentions,
teenage acne
and an army of hands,
fingers sliding up her skirt.
Princesses in the stories
never said, “Stop”
when the knights kissed them,
they always liked it.
So she clenched her fists,
grit her teeth
and gave in, for one moment,
forgetting that she was not a princess.
When the knight with acne
began to hurt her,
she remembered she was a queen,
and that she had the right to deny intruders access
to her castle,
her temple,
her body was not his high school playground.
She refused him there, at the dried-up moat,
told him,
commanded him,
“No.”
But his army invaded anyways, taking what was never their’s to take.

“Okay, that’s it.”
“We’ve heard enough!”
the jury screams, demanding answers.
The public thinks
they have the right to throw blame
at whomever it sticks to the most.
They ask her the same questions she herself asks
every night after brushing her teeth but before falling asleep;
what if I had pushed back,
shoved away, hard,
beat my knight
like the dragon I know I can be;
what if I had filled my lungs
between gasping, crying sobs,
and screamed for help;
what if I had just learned
the correct pronunciation of the word,
“No”,
in whatever language that boy must have spoke
because surely it couldn’t have been English?

They command her to come up with answers
when she can’t even come up for air,
all she knows is her world was never a fairytale
and now it never would be.
She will go down in her high school halls instead as a fable,
The Girl Who Cried Rape,
the one girls gossip about behind manicured nails,
the one guys joke about in locker rooms.
They ask what she wore,
as if her clothes could speak for her,
and no matter her answer,
their’s still would have been rape jokes and slut shaming,
resentment and judgement.
They ask what she said,
as if he couldn’t understand her tears
even if he couldn’t hear her, “No”;
as if he never had to pin her hands behind her
to keep her from escaping.
They ask her why she dated him if he raped her
and she choked on her answer:
she thought he was her knight in shining armour,
but real knights don’t use your love
as a weapon against you.

They never ask him, though,
why he ignored her tears,
her body language,
her words,
why he ignored her, period.
They don’t ask him
what he wore,
or what he did to her,
or what he said afterwards
to get her to stop crying.

They never ask him
why he raped her.

A Boy Called Cameron

I know a boy. Let’s call him Cameron.

Cameron will be 13 years old this year. He has blue hair, green eyes and a huge, toothy smile that takes up half of his face.

Cameron also has scars scattered across his body, the kind that your eyes can’t help but notice when he takes off his sweater. They’ve been there since I met him two years ago.

When I met Cameron, his name wasn’t Cameron. His parents had named him Hannah.

Just like how his scars don’t match his smile, Cameron’s biological sex never matched his mind, heart and soul.

Cameron is the first person I’ve ever grown close to who is transgender.

His parents noticed something was wrong when they saw how unhappy he was in his biologically female body. Unlike the thousands of unaccepting and prejudice parents out there, Cameron was lucky in the sense that his parents supported him when he told them he felt like a boy, not a girl. They encouraged him to dress and act how he wanted to, to defy any gender norms set in place by a hateful society.

Despite all of the love and emotional support Cameron gets every day from his parents, friends, family and people like me who simply have the honour of knowing him, Cameron suffers from depression.

I watch this kid, just 12 years old, wake up every day and take a handful of pills, some of which are for the hormones, some of which are for the testosterone, some of which are for the anxiety and depression that Cameron has. He washes them down with a gulp of water before returning to play with his friends or getting ready for school. He goes to doctors appointments more regularly than he is invited to birthday parties.

Cameron faces bullies every day at his school. His classmates grew up knowing him as Hannah, and Cameron’s transition is hard for them to understand – especially when their parents fill their mouths with words they’re too young to understand. He has had grown adults ask him what’s wrong with him, a question he says he is still searching for the answer for. He has been told he’s “sick” for believing he is who he is: a boy.

Cameron learned to hate his body from a young age for showing him as a gender he doesn’t know how to relate with. He has carved his skin to the bone, crying because he wants to be normal, confused because he doesn’t know what that looks like. He has tried to shed his skin like the garter snakes he’s learned about in school, hoping that answers lie below the epidermis.

He’s a little boy, and he spends his days in fear, worrying who will be next to will tell him he’s abnormal, a freak, confused, unwanted, a pervert, disgusting, abominable.

I watched his face when he read the signs that hung on the men’s washrooms:

“ALL WELCOME”

paired with an LGBTQ flag.

I cannot explain properly to you the exquisite joy I felt watching that boy’s toothy smile break out all over his face in that moment.

It was one thing Cameron didn’t have to worry about that day.