i spend my whole life waiting.
yes, all seventeen years and thirty-eight days of it,
as long as i have to get up in the morning and glimpse
my reflection in the mirror,
double team pixelated into the inverted-triangle stickman
on all the toilet doors. when the pink gates lock, the
tiles wet and overflowing with salt, i make myself leave
the decapitated head of the other ( open ) door blinks, questioningly
and the soaked hem of my skirt answers, silently.
we all wear the shorts in this relationship. the blood on my knees follows me
from white to white to khaki,
but it stains the cloth all the same. i cannot
break gender roles if i never conform to them in the first place. i don’t want
equality. i want to be selfish. the pant legs hide scars, and not much else.
what do i have to cover up, anyway? all my degeneracy is in here.
i spend my whole life wanting.
it has always been about the pretty boys, and the video
games, and the irrational desire to be shaped like the xbox
se:x—but i don’t know where all the pieces fit. i am seventeen
months old again, jamming
the circle into the square hole over and over and over and
i cry when my corners break off; of course i do.
when i talk to people about boys i am careful to correction
tape the worst parts out, but this makes
my story heavy with bandaged lies. i have never known how
to fix it,
how to look across the motion blur of the canteen and think i
want to write poetry about the swoop of his hair without also
dreaming about the scissors in my desk drawer,
how to stop feeling the jacknife of false happiness in my
throat when it rasps, sore as a wound, to rock-bottom.
across the classroom my
classmates struggle into each others’ clothes, eyes led-
bright with smiles. i want
to be happy, too.
i am made of glass
but instead of propping myself up with scaffolding i shatter with every careless
word. i say,
i don’t want to see your face ever again,
staring at me from mrt platforms and the
windows in the doors and everyone else’s
gazes on me. the surface of the mirror ripples like tears;
i am not narcissus
and it kills me to know it.
i say, i am melancholy. i am miserable. i am not a man, and i am not glass. i do not break as easily as i would like to.
i have spent my whole life wasting
the virtue of my name, the easy confidence that grows
along with hair to my waist, hair worth enough
and cut off like a
braided loop of rope.
i am surrounded by people who don’t speak my language
of love, and even more who
don’t speak my language of loss, and i think this is my
tragicomedy. this is my torch to carry. i am such a fool,
it isn’t even
so be it: if my voice makes itself heard exclusively
in sobs, instead of speeches, if my heart is loudest
when it stops beating. if my name is one not meant
to be spoken, but to be inked onto sheets of paper and
google forms and carved into the flesh
of the bathroom doors,
so be it.
it is not mine, anymore. it never has been.
riel is a student who only does homework while in queue for video game matches and only writes poetry after a mental breakdown— the rest of their time is spent consuming/creating visceral horror content, skating fast, and deliberating over which toilet to use when out in public. they are also on instagram @aphelionics.
Image: @steve_j via Unsplash