yes i slept in my bra

boyhood

I am a broken brown boy
bound together with Ace bandages:
I am the confusion of my lopsided face
in the mirror
as I tug one eye closed: Why are my eyes so
crooked? Why is my jaw so round?
My chest is flat in my favorite picture.
I fold my arms across my stomach
and turn my cheek,
so no one can tell the difference
between me and my

father says I am his first daughter,
but I know I am his second son.
So my only inheritance is his thick lips
and anger outbreaks, and as I write this
my right hand types slower,
three knuckles splintered apart and scabbing
from where I buried them in the wall.

My story does not end in testosterone.
My story does not end in phalloplasty.
My story does not end with my fingers
stitching golden half-moons across my chest.
No:
My story chugs on in sports bras and muscle shirts,
and in Jersey dresses and curly weaves,
because if I could just be pretty enough,
yes, if I just looked like all of the girls
I wanted to sleep with,
instead of like their boyfriends…

The last time I slept with a girl,
she called me Daddy.  I was Champange Papi
for breakfast
and Sugar for dinner,
but I know she never felt full.
My muscles did not look like her father’s muscles.
I spent my bank account on clothes for her,
jewelry for her, red wine for her,
and, for me, a hookah pen
that filled my mouth with glass and ink.
As she pulled glass out of my gums,
she said I didn’t need to write anymore.

They say artists speak the truth,
but I don’t have any: I can’t write the bible
on masculinity or the manifesto of femininity
or offer any pointed Platonian platitudes
for merging the two;
and although Plato pondered whether a female body
could contain a male soul
my tongue can’t fathom that sticky word.
Soul.

I am the awkward masculinity
festering at the bottom of a wine glass.
One day a man will scrape me out,
tie me into a white dress
and call me the beautiful mother of his children.
And when the Ace bandages fall like ribbons
to my blistered feet,
I’ll run a hand over my crooked ribs
and cringe.
And I’ll say to myself
when I say to my girlfriends:
Don’t you look so beautiful, baby girl?
Don’t you just look so beautiful?