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
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
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