By Grace Gaynor
Come inside and take off your boots, your thick jacket. Hang the weight of your key ring, heart, and shame on the hook by the front door. What should I call you? Where are you from? (I could say I am from this world, this perfect one I have built on the outskirts of the “real world,” but that wouldn’t be true). Who has rejected you? What do you reject? Whisper anything into my brain devoid of dutiful womanhood. Where have you found yourself? I’ll admit it, I still search for myself in ill-fitting places. At times, I blink and see myself flickering in the background of a series that will inevitably be canceled next week. I will myself into the lines of everything I read like a careful wish.
I am seeking you out. I want to hear everything you have to say. You can give me all your guilty-pleasure references to the L word, I want to know what you think of Gen Q. I want to know what kind of representation you crave, what are you searching for in early-2000s haze? Are you hoping to see your reflection staring back at you? Let’s cut the glass for our own mirror, we are certainly capable enough.
Bring me your secrets and I will greet them like friends. Yes, I want the unwieldy story rifling through your precarious gender performance. Yes, I want the rambling prose poem recounting your whirlwind love with her. Yes, I want the uniform sonnet dedicated to the wild euphoria of slinking into the men’s section. Write about that hushed part of you, the part you promised never to write about. I’ll read with admiration in my eyes. I’ll look up from the page and smile.
How does it feel to make yourself literary? How does it feel to write yourself into spaces you shouldn’t exist in? It might feel almost impossible, like trudging in snow, building a paper skyscraper, jogging up the swell of a hill in a sweltering late July. So often, the words we hold are wet sand. Do you also feel like you rush to string sentences together before they collapse into the sea? Abandon your construction and swim out to meet me. Let’s float on our backs until the tide washes us in, we’ll wear shorts and they’ll fit us like a dream. We’ll write poems about it, about fitting.
Walk through the door and greet me like someone you know. Shed the weight of a life you do not want, the one that others hope to give you, hope to bestow on you like a gift for a different person, hope to wrestle over your head like a too-tight dress. Show me the pages of your knowledge, collected during your solitary life on the margins. Settle your unregulated body into the soft chair across from me, let’s live lavishly. I want to listen to you in a world that talks back. We’ll be spectacles together, you and I, our confusing hair, our comfortable clothes, our practical shoes.