Tomorrow, when you come mother, I will begin to use words
I haven’t used in nearly two decades.
I will say I believe.
I will say I pray to gods now, and that I believe
I was alive before the earth came together,
and the love I hold, the compassion that kills me, I believe
came to me 40 years ago, tethered inside your center.
The body, I know, will become mulch for the grass and trees,
it’s energy consumed inside a squirrel and worm and the bird that eats the worm.
But I believe some other thing will continue.
It has been too long, mother.
I believe again.
That is why, when I say there’s a woman in me,
I don’t mean the idea or the feeling or what they say about identity.
I mean a woman.
I do not identify as a woman.
That is all a confusion, a rumor, a comic mythology.
I believe in creation.
I believe god took her painting seriously.
I believe she lifted us from the canvas in order
to place us into reality. An infinite variety of realities.
I can see her wild face splattered with charred red and a wistful silver,
her eyes barely taking the time to blink. I believe her mother
would have brought in a plate of pancakes and blueberry syrup
that has gone cold, left on a folding table
next to paint thinner, paper towels and faintly sketched versions
of us, brown with coffee stains.
I find it easy to believe this. That we were painted
into existence first, then given some kind of form,
a body others could touch. A medium they could press their prints into.
And maybe my own form is not the wrong form after all.
Maybe it was given as a medium for moulding and manipulation.
Maybe the body was never supposed to be gendered.
I will suspend my disbelief.
The gods must be artists,
manic, depressive, torn between love and loss and a need
to be present for other loves, other sorrows that ring in the ears
like a note that repeats and repeats until we stop
asking when or if it will ever end.
I believe they painted me a woman, mother.
That is what I mean when I say who I am and when I dress
in webbed stockings, skinny jeans and wedge heels.
They painted me wild, impressionistic, bright and dark
and gave me this form to mold on my own. So I interpret myself
with my own tools, my own trowel and plaster,
my own torch and tears. And whatever I become,
however closely I resemble my painted self,
whatever happens, I believe will matter less
than the spirit who dared to make it happen.
I believe we live to change.
I believe the bodies we posses were never finished. Our skin
is ours to make smooth or rough. The whole of our form
is ours to shape, our hips, our cheek bones
the depth our eyes, the width and bulk of our lips.
Can you believe I believe this?
After so much doubt, so much anger. I believe
whatever we are, it is us the gods wanted
to finish their work.
I must believe it.
For my own survival I believe. I believe the gods
painted me a woman, and I’ve been praying to them,
for more than two years I’ve prayed,
pleading to see the woman they made.
and I am still praying. After all these years, mother,
I am praying again. And you were right –