Seven Words [Paul Bone]

To say that every fetus is transgendered,
to say that every vulnerable fetus,
in its entitlement in utero
and up until a certain muffled hour
always and ever will be neither this
nor that, nor man nor woman, fish nor bird
nor snake in its diversity of options—
to say this evidence-based observation,
to say this science-based entitlement
of cells is somehow indeterminate
still up until that certain curtained hour
when options dwindle and diversity
goes niggard as the tail disappears,
the gills withdraw, the penis buds or doesn’t
and the vagina enfolds its cleft or not,
or sometimes both—again, to say all this.

A fetus in its vulnerable ignorance,
it its entitlement to diversity,
emerges as an evidence-based fact.
In her entitlement to scream, the mother,
now that this fact emerges and is born,
can say this is a fetus or is not,
can claim her science-based entitlement.
She has before her a diversity
of names. Transgender might be one of them,
vulnerable another. To say this.


Paul Bone teaches in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Evansville and is the author of Nostalgia for Sacrifice.

Inspiration: Whether there was a direct ban from above or CDC lifers in a canny and ironic move suggested self-censoring of these famous seven words, the texture of this moment is the same: the degradation of language, discourse, and fact contributed to Trump’s election, and that degradation continues to be a consequence of it.


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