He saves up money for top surgery. At night when all is quiet and the rabbits are sleeping off their hay (it is important to note that what we think of as quiet hardly is anymore) X has problems of a racing heart. Seven months on testosterone; it’s like a door you’ve been pushing on. When it bursts open, you just fall through. Panic is the moth red in the wings over pronouns. And pushing is a kind of prayer.
What makes a collective. A needle soreness in my thigh. X wishes to remain a boy but knows it doesn’t pay the bills. Boys don’t play like men and thank goodness for that. I knew a man once; that was enough. “Hello?” we call out in a darkened room. “Hello?” Something about being on the inside of narrative. Prairie restoration project falls behind schedule. Is this what the middle people live for, if we can be essential again? The reborn son cries out from inside a nightmare. Goats kicking. Make me down! Girl with a shiny red toolbox, come home. Edelweiss singing in the wildflowers, come home. Is lonely without.
X becomes one thousand men just to see what happens. Wakes up in a fog trying to love everybody openly. I walk the isthmus with a telescope looking for signs of life in the starry night. In the wilderness my scars look like swords and my desires hunt me down. The way an eagle in full flight lifts a salmon from the rippled water, and the salmon thrusts side to side like it wants something more than just to live. There’s another way to get at this beginning.
To be the bearer of good news: X works hard to be tenderhearted with each shot. Love softly from behind a mustache. Rejoice. Come over for sweet corn and a game. Doesn’t cry anymore, not even for justice. The closest we can get is bicycle recklessly into the dark of night. Smell of algae on the lake like a plastic bag over the head. The good news is the will to change. When we say we are moved, it is always some liquid. Shiny red canoe.
Oliver Baez Bendorf is the author of Advantages of Being Evergreen (forthcoming 2019), winner of Cleveland State University Poetry Center's 2018 Open Book Poetry Competition, and The Spectral Wilderness (Kent State U., 2015). His poems have been or will be published in American Poetry Review, BOMB, The Feminist Wire, Poetry, and Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, and have been translated into Russian and Spanish. The recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo and University of Wisconsin's Institute for Creative Writing, he is an assistant professor of creative writing at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.