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Pronoun

  • Posted on November 21, 2016 at 1:24 pm
Every transgender person experiences misgendering. The wrong pronouns may slip out accidentally, or reveal some underlying belief that you aren’t really what you say you are. Or they are deliberate, making a point. The trouble is, you don’t always know which it is, and to point it out can lead to saying far more than you should ever need to.

It was a bit like a bullet
whizzing through empty air
an interruption
a moment in thought
a maybe

Did you say ‘he’? No
I’m not asking, not really
I’m sure I misheard you
mustn’t be sensitive
of course

If it was, there may be another
and now I am ready to duck
I’m twitching
alert to your words’
intention

I am pronoun selective
afraid of shooting myself
with your slip of the tongue
unconscious mate-guy-fella-he
meaning she

It’s not the word that wounds
but the mental image
the association
the feeling: but-you’re-really-a
aren’t you

Why should I need to explain
why I think bullet
when you say he
and it won’t make any difference
will it

Memory and identity – about Blue grapes

  • Posted on September 30, 2016 at 8:42 pm

This is an explanation or background to the poem ‘Blue grapes’.

I am watching my own memory, as I have written here over these past years. Me then, me now, what I knew and what I did not. I have written about dementia, a devastating disease that touches most of us in some way, that is affecting my mother. I have written about photographs like memory. Is this a sideline or a sibling to identity?

As I talk to my mother on the phone, my voice is familiar enough, and she remembers her son setting off camping alone in the Peak District. And yet I worry that if I were to knock on her door now, she would not recognise me. She never knew she had a daughter at the time I remember her summer skirt, when I was so small and sat or on at her knee. My best memory of that may have been stimulated by a photograph of her wearing it. Which I saw many years ago. The photograph no longer exists because she threw it away, my memory does, hers may, because it is an old memory, where I am still her son.

Somewhere inside, she is still the same young mother, whilst outside her reality is badly distorted. Today cannot be reclaimed, whilst those old days are like fluctuating embers of a dying fire. The conversations we hold now are a tissue, always the same, very fragile, everything in a tenuous memory layer, nothing really in the present. I am in the opposite pattern, where my memories are least like I really am now. One of us is hanging on to the present, the other the past, as our strongest realities.

Our identities must be more than our memories, yet without them we don’t fully make sense of the present, and so my mother and I have slipped apart even more than my bad record of being in touch deserves. I feel more myself, she less, whilst we may both remember a time long gone when she was young and wore a skirt I shall never forget, in a pattern of blue grapes.

Hence the poem, which visually represents a dialogue that is slipping apart. It can be read as one voice, or two.

Blue grapes

  • Posted on September 30, 2016 at 8:13 pm

Blue grapes

                               I shan’t ask you if you remember

blue grapes on white

                                    you may remember much better than this morning

blue grapes on white and stripes

                                           this morning has faded too soon

blue grapes on white and stripes wider than my arms

                                               too soon to recognise the loss

my last memory of blue grapes

                                                    your cotton skirt printed

was a photograph of laughter

                                                         faded and thrown away

in green fields running

                                                              girlish mother country breeze

we were children in vivid grass

                                                                  throwing your wide skirt of blue grapes

memory prints of deep past

                                                                       wider than my arms being gathered and wrapped

fading with the son

                                                                              in single colours lost pink lost green just blue

that skirt that place

                                                                                     grapes on white with stripes so wide

skirt memory

                                                                                            blue grapes

of course

                                                                                                   how could we forget?

Orlando

  • Posted on June 14, 2016 at 11:17 pm

It is for God to punish
says his father, and a mother
in another country says she hates
the woman her daughter
must hide in a closet
when her uncles come.

My partner wriggles her hand
free from mine, unsure
because this isn’t Brighton;
they stand at passport control
separately, just in case,
and the sun beats down.

I was lucky, he says, I did
gymnastics with the girls,
kept a low profile and learned
which way to walk home, funny
how so many I know now
were bullied at school.

A man cries in a crowd
in another language, as
thousands, and thousands of miles
apart, are together tonight
showing recognition, naming
a shared sorrow and fear.

A father leans forward
in a theatre, speaks his
objection to two girls kissing,
thinking of his daughters
the infection, not the
affection without fear.

A mother lives in fear, her
daughter’s lover shut,
a father lives in fear because
he was taught a god, and taught
his son, who beat himself, down,
Pulse racing to shoot.

People who don’t pray, pray
for the souls wrapped
around bullets, and people who do
try to forget who god punishes,
pray for mothers, not lovers;
my lover loosens her hand.

We never quite forget, as you can,
that the fear is ours, that
a touch, a kiss, is twisted out and
into disgust, our loves denied,
existence erased, or laughed off
with taught lines, from sacred places.

We are people you can make
laws about, lies about, forget
that this was another Target
entitling one breath to close
a toilet door, a cupboard, another
to extol faith, text, gun, a good son.

 

Notes:

  • Living with my lesbian partner where it’s illegal to be gay (Iran)
  • On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American-born Afghan Muslim, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a shooting inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. He was by all accounts himself gay.
  • Target is the second largest discount retailer in the US, which drew (largely Republican Christian) transphobic attention by disregarding state ‘bathroom bills’ requiring transgender people to only use toilets matching the gender on their birth certificates.

2016 © Andie Davidson

Arms, length

  • Posted on October 17, 2015 at 5:45 pm

On our sides we are unarmed:
half the hold, so limbs won’t sleep
before we, wishing the whole
embrace, fall to peace.

Under your neck, beneath my arm,
tightly try to keep a flow
from heart to fingertips—until
our weight draws tingles

and admission, that much as we
are made to hug, we must turn
reluctantly, to curve ourselves
in long touch, nose to toes.

Skin then speaks, not in the press
fully armed, but in a million
minute nerves, ours, counting
what ten fingers can’t.

Skin to skin, folded more fine
than any paper crane is turned
we become one shape, a single
sense of all we need to say—

the extent of which we never know,
unfolded gently by our dreams
then close again in sleep, and wake,
to hold, half-hold, find our length.

 

2015 © Andie Davidson