For My Young Queer Sisters
If your mother is shitty, I’ll be your mother.
No, really. I know all I have to offer is half a dorm room, but my roommate’s snoring is nothing compared to sleeping in cars when things get ugly.
I’ll give you instant cocoa and all the wisdom I wish my mother had told me after I came out to her in the passenger seat.
But her silence during the ride home still roars in my ears every time our eyes meet,
so let me be your mother while your real one has forgotten how to be for a while.
Do not be ashamed of how much love rests in your bones.
Never feel ashamed for sharing that love with girls, baby
If you love her, come home to her like she is the only star that hasn’t been snuffed out and never stop wanting to hold her hand to keep the darkness at bay.
If she leaves you, baby, pick up your broken pieces, stick them back together in the best way you can. Don’t worry if they don’t fit perfectly anymore. The cracks and sharp corners just mean that your love was too powerful not to leave an aftermath in its wake. Cherish the bruises on your insides as proof that what you felt meant something.
Go out dancing, baby, soak in bathtubs and scrub every inch of self-loathing out. Your bones have lived through so much already. Put the sharpness down. Your wrists and hipbones are worth more than any goddamn national park, so protect them. Don’t turn the pain into a war with the body that keeps you alive.
I was that way too, once;
Hoping that if I shrunk myself down, I could rebuild into someone I wanted to see when I looked in the mirror,
no more sharp edges where I should be soft.
Stretch your limbs up to the sunlight and your face to the sky
because goddesses are supposed to tower over mortals;
Eat your fill, baby, you deserve to take up space,
and anyone who says otherwise is just bitter about living in your shadow
I see the way you look at me now, hoping that four years will give you my easy laugh and a girlfriend you don’t have to hide.
I hear the whispers about you; I see the threats, but my presence beside you becomes armor-
And I won’t let them rob you of your fragile bits without a fight
Watch me walk
Hands jammed in pockets
Borrowed swagger, slow
There’s a power inside me I don’t have the language for yet
I wear boyishness like
My thrift store clothes
Too big to be flattering
Too comfortable to throw away
I wear my chest flat like a declaration
Peel back the fabric, hear my lungs seize
And my ribs groan
Trying to choke down masculinity
Breaking it into bite-sized pieces
Easy to swallow
Not enough to feel full but
Not enough to taint with taking, taking, taking
Because I have seen masculinity murder my sisters
Seen it as a ghost in our home
Creeping in through the cracks in the windows
We lie and say it’s the wind whistling
We make do without hammers and nails to fix this house
The absence of masculinity wakes my mother at night
She ripped the burglar alarm out of the wall at 3 am
Said we are never safe as a house both full and empty of just two women
Said we didn’t need an alarm to remind us
That we are flint waiting for a match
I have seen masculinity burn down homes
I paint my lips blood red as a way of taking back
What is called weakness, what is called womanhood
My perfume is not an excuse
Vanilla is as much the scent of power as Axe body spray
And I wonder if that’s how my blood will taste
If I leave my body to the vultures
Lay in the sun and
Let them peel back my skin until there is
No paint left, no backwards snapback swagger left
Will they taste the perfume or the fire?
Tonight, I leave the hollows of my ribs shut tight
Barricade the door, biting my tongue against what it wants
But masculinity seeps in through the cracks anyway
Whispering that I am too much and not enough
That my body is wrong, that my shyness is wrong, that my gentle is weak
That I have to murder my old self
Lay it out for the vultures
Bury the bones under the weeping willow tree I used to climb
When the bones turn to dust, masculinity lies and tells me I’ll be whole
But I know, I’ll still hear ghostly whispers in my sleep
And my lips will still be stained red
Jane is a nonbinary spoken word poet who is fine with whatever pronouns you want to use for her. She is 19 years old and lives in Washington DC with her cat and her mom when she’s not in school in Ohio.