Performing one’s gender wrong initiates a set of punishments both obvious and indirect, and performing it well provides the reassurance that there is an essentialism of gender identity after all. That this reassurance is so easily displaced by anxiety, that culture so readily punishes or marginalizes those who fail to perform the illusion of gender essentialism should be sign enough that on some level there is social knowledge that the truth or falsity of gender is only socially compelled and in no sense ontologically necessitated.
—  Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution” (528)
The tragedies of my body have made the soul inside it more comfortable

It was not home until I
made a mess. I cried until my face
was numb, kissed a stranger and
carried him like a marble under my tongue.
My left knee pops every
other step and my jaw should be broken by now.
Forgive the stranger I become
after I want to forget you. ‘Forget’ sounds too close to 'forgive’
But both seem to have the same
ending. When the body takes notes on
how greed changes posture,
I’ll remember you as someone worth

If the blue morning held in the glass of the window,
if my fingers, my palms. If my thighs.
If your hands, if my thighs.
If the seeds, among all the lost gold of the grass.
If your hands on my thighs, if your tongue.
If the leaves. If the singing fell upward. If grief.
For a moment if singing and grief.
If the blue of the body fell upward, out of our hands.
If the morning held it like leaves.
—  Jane Hirshfield, from “If the Rise of the Fish,” in The Lives of the Heart
[I]f the skin is a border, then it is a border that feels. […] So while the skin appears to be the matter which separates the body, it rather allows us to think of how the materialisation of bodies involves, not containment, but an affective opening out of bodies to other bodies, in the sense that the skin registers how bodies are touched by others.
—  Sara Ahmed, Strange Encounters (45)