My mother thought I was a lesbian
when I came home from college
wearing a flannel shirt fresh from a March
across the Boston Common, the ‘70s
no entitlement back then, no transgender
friend, we all hid inside our sleepless nights
smoking fat joints of science-based conclusions
rolling out our private stomach aches watching
evidence stack up higher than we could see.
I feel so vulnerable tonight, hungry for diversity–
where is my entitlement–I am my own
transgender fetus floating in a tank with no borders
banging my soft unformed skull into the glass ceiling
seeking any spray of light as our world rolls backward
over a grassless hill of mutant crickets button up
your collar until your mouth is invisible all evidence-based
science-based beautiful womb-faced lips erased
who doesn’t crave a chance to say banned words
hear their echo like vapor stain the wall of our lives
our slurred speech aching for clarity.
Kim Dower is the City Poet Laureate of West Hollywood through October, 2018. She is the author of three collections of poetry, all published by Red Hen Press, with a fourth collection, Sunbathing on Tyrone Power’s Grave coming in the Spring of 2019. www.kimdowerpoetry.com
Inspiration: As soon as I read the news story that seven words had been banned from use by the CDC, I wanted to use those words in a poem. Then I read about the CDC Poetry Project. Perfect. My inspiration for the poem? Shock, despair, and the pleasure of using newly banned words.