SABBATICAL STUDIO: SALON
“home | body” & “her mother’s good heart” for Sabbatical Studio’s Salon
I wrote and performed two pieces for Sabbatical Studio’s inaugural Salon, a night of exchanging ideas through art, film, and performance.
home | body
at my birthday party last year, one of my best friends tells me my ass looks amazing in my shorts
the femme in me is flattered, wow it’s nice to have an ass the boy in me is uncomfortable, doesn’t want to be looked at or examined — a longstanding double date with dysphoria and devotion. the me in me stays silent, hides, doesn’t want to be looked at or examined—
there is already enough examining being done here, i want to tell them.
i say nothing.
add it to my growing list of nothing.
it’s nothing, after all.
really, i promise.
the first time i even uttered the word non-binary to someone besides the inside of my sleeve,
i was laying naked on a deflating mattress in an empty apartment
and she was the one who said it for me.
she, you, remained the one who saw it perhaps even before me,
if it were possible,
to live so closely next to something so slipshod and not feel it tremble.
there were candles burning that night,
or maybe it was flesh — coming out can be a kind of death too,
the kind you are not supposed to mourn—
you knew this better than most.
i had your attention when i told you a part of me was leaving,
this was always how you loved anything best.
perhaps you believed love should mirror loss —
the leaving behind of one body in favor of another
was not so unlike prayer.
you traced my body, young and in need and lacking and growing dysphoric
by the day
by the hour
by the minutes, passing before and between us,
and i believed in bodies that live beyond their borders too.
i want to trace two paths, not unlike sisters
leading back to you —
as if to say,
here is where i lost something softer than love.
here is where you taught me being taken from breeds taking.
as if to say,
there is no mixture of loving and leaving
that is safe enough to drink from.
i have fallen out of belief in many kinds of religion,
not least of all was you.
i am not homesick in my body,
but sometimes i am for you.
i saw the familiar lines in mistaking a body for a home
when i moved through my own masquerading masculinity,
a slow dance with myself,
one i never had nor want with you.
sometimes being femme is my consolation for being emptied of you,
my girlhood met yours at a party once and they played each other both for fools.
my girlhood still waltzing to the sound of queer laughter,
my girlhood still walking home with her fists the shape of fear
my girlhood still walking,
my girlhood still here,
a weekend in brooklyn spent with friends,
some resembling gods,
others, like rooms I’ve been before.
on the first day, a new god refers to me using they pronouns
and because another they lives there,
they all by osmosis quickly follow suit,
correcting each other like clock hands in front of me —
for the first time in my life,
i understand what a baptism feels like.
one of my best friends has made a habit of referring to me with they pronouns
each time she does it i am believed to be real,
no, not just real but good.
good like the center of your left palm,
good like the inset of your cheek,
good like rain,
i wish there was a way to pray to these ordinary gods
without being at your knees,
but there is an altar being built in the same shape as my body
and that feels a lot like belief.
what i wish i could say as easily as hello is that
sometimes i am a boy
sometimes i am a girl
sometimes the disbelief in either,
and other times, a queering of the same old scripture
if you want i can use it for you in a sentence,
the sentence is a cloud computer
a place you store the things you want to forget
but haven’t the stomach to get rid of,
the sentence is the first picture you ever took of yourself
water populates me more than grief,
the sentence is the distance between spoken and felt,
and the shortcut i took when it came to loving you,
the sentence is open to the possibility that it does not know how to define itself,
to make it more palatable
or easier to run a shark tooth comb through.
the sentence is an untangling, a tripwire to alert the others,
there is more to me than these sentences, i promise you.
if you need to hear this from me,
i am not in need of a search party for my womanhood,
nor my manhood wherever they may be.
if you asked me how I identify,
i’d point at a color or maybe a crack in the floor and tell you,
keep searching / but also, call off your dogs.
abandon the language entirely,
the normativity and its machinery,
the alphabet and its rented equipment, long past overdue.
nothing belongs to me, not even my lovers’ leaving.
nothing belongs to you, not even my gender’s first born.
it is complex to say i do not believe i am just one thing or another,
but simplicity is something we talk around sometimes
rather than through.
i am good in this body,
and that’s the closest thing
to feeling at home
I’ve come to