on the hagiography of a spine

i'm alone & it's my own fault.

posting this publicly might seem like histrionics, but the truth is that for the 24 years i was perceived as male i was actively trying to cultivate a sense of me as unapproachable, haughty, too intelligent for casual conversations or friends... my self-hate, sharpened on the whetstone of dysphoria, turned inside out & i used it as an excuse to belittle others. i was a bully, in short.

though it wasn't always that way. 24 years holds multitudes & cynicism first incubates exonormatively. i was @ one point free.

9 years old. i remember because it was @ the branchburg house. the one michael built, before he was killed. we had just moved from south plainfield. this would be where my father & mother set me on the picnic table in the barely 2 1/2 m backyard & delicately yet firmly told me they were getting divorced.

i remember thinking it was my fault--i had told my best friend a few months before about all the fights & said yes, i think they're getting divorced. my sister overheard & screamed @ me. i must have jinxed it. broke that final ethereal spider's sling. that tenuous hold btwn these testaments to 'opposites attract'. yes, they attract like drivers on dark lanes w/ dim headlights & no sleep. they attract like marauding gangs on lucrative territory. they attract & then split like atoms & my father's voice carries through the thin carpet & thin walls & thin, yes, my ears are thin from the sound. i can barely hear the soft pucker against teeth as a fair lip curls under the bough of a deviled sky all red w/ mercy crying how never what a drag.

but then, no, the sky was blue, wasn't it? & i was 9 years old. the summer was thick w/ fireflies. we used too catch them in our hands. i had no fear of legs then. i could touch them w/out a thought, pattering one two four eight over knuckles. my lord was grass & trees & watching as the frill folds of the monarch untethered.

the butterfly in particular crash-landed on the lawn & in my naivety i thought it must be tired of flying. w/ no conceptual framework for decay. no sense that a black-orange thing might die in my hands, no matter how crossly i let it know it mustn't. 

but in the films all weariness was met w/ care. a nursely instinct came over me. i cut the top end off a 2% milk gallon jug, rinsed it clean, filled it w/ sticks & grass & dandelion buds, cupped the strange bird in my paws, set it a'flutter w/in, & pressed the top back on w/out the cap so it could breathe. 

i told my father how i was trying. as i recall, he renamed me something red.

i cried when i let it go. i cried as it landed first on my forehead, then flapped vigorous & off, sailing. my tears were the tears of a peasant nation. symbolic. invisible. not from the whole of me. 

de profundis, ascendunt alis. long live the king.

so that feeling, turned inward @ first, came out. this was wrong. i must be wrong. everything i am is wrong. others must be wrong as well. tell them. correct them. let them know their smiles look stupid... & now i'm here. alone on the carpet next to my bed, writing a nothing publicly to no one. & it's my fault.

in the wake of #metoo (a hashtag w/ which i have a complicated relationship; i have been assaulted multiple times to varying degrees of severity, but i have also personally contributed to a culture that has enabled the silencing of victims--to wit, toxic masculinity), i'm of the opinion that nothing is going to change unless the nature of all relationships changes: starting w/ that relationship to self & expanding out to lovers, family, & friends.

kindness. we must be kind to ourselves & to others. we must cultivate kindness, nurse & drink from its stores. 

& the first step toward kindness is acceptance.

i accept my responsibility for having hurt others. i accept that i have work to do. i accept that simply wanting to change is not enough. i accept the personal responsibility of change.

i accept the kindness i have refused myself for so long. i walk these child's hands on all legs.

life is a single wing poised for flight. w/ kindness, i raise another...

it's okay to hurt. but hurt is not an excuse for more hurt. the pain in my knee doesn't disappear when i pinch my arm. nor does it simply disappear @ admission. it disappears when i do something about it. so it's important to point out w/ humility & to remind myself: i don't deserve a fucking cookie for basic human decency. it's not that novel. there's nothing courageous or noteworthy in recognising your moral failings. that's the bare minimum & being extraordinary takes a helluva lot more. 

but i'm starting to remember who i used to be. before i mixed up love for blind deference. before we met. oh, how i wanted you, don't you know? you must have known, you braying bull, in all your girder utility. i spoke your voice for those three days, & each day was a year, & you quashed my own & i thanked you. we were full-tilt. we were islands hidden in vapour. you blue boy, w/ all that potential bursting @ the zip...

but i have this still

grown & nurtured in the milk of a jug

yes, this is my spine

& it is bent

& it is human

& it is not a saint

& we are not saints