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If the Body is a Metaphor

“Not all women menstruate and not all people who menstruate are women.” –Emmy Coletti

If the body is a metaphor

I fear


mine has been mistranslated,

conjugated by a mouth


that grew up chewing

a different syntax. Maybe


it was supposed to be a superlative

for this is how to adore


something less fleeting. Or

maybe it was supposed to be an imperative


bruised out through the hole of my mother’s



Or maybe I was supposed to be passed on

from one mouth to another


evolving with each rumor

that sustains me.




I want someone to give me a kiss

I can hold on to


for later when I need one,

for when my body grows



between the female and male phrases, belonging


to both, and neither, at once.

I would kiss you just to comma the moment


but I don’t know where my mouth has been.




At night, I lie awake

even in my sleep.


Tonight, my jaw feels



I forgot to shave my face

and now I can’t stop touching the quotations


fuzzing my cheeks

until a period burrows through my gut like teeth.


What if my body is actually trying to ask you

not to make me an asterisk


in a text about anything human?

I am a female man


but I am not a footnote

that will lie down





I am pregnant


five minutes ago, will be for the past eleven weeks,

but I can’t leave my context.


I lie here, twisting among sheets, and bleed

right through the page.


I know I should end the poem here, but


I have a right to be saved.




Yet, so long as I freeze the moment,

I am still pregnant


-ish. And

I don’t want to be past tense—


not when I could be present

and also full of the future.

This poem was a finalist in the Pleiades Poetry Prize and was published in Pleiades, Spring 2022


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