then. now. now. then. then.

He asks, “What do you collect?”

I say, “Rituals. Mothers. Loose tea.”

She wants to know why maps coat my walls as though these paper grids were paint.

I say, “I got lost somewhere between sixteen and thirty-two and need to be reminded which directions and roads will lead me back.”

“You must confess how you got your hair that color,” they sing.

I say, “Plasma, sex and rejected genetics.”

He whispers, “Tell me what distracts you away from then.”

“Easy,” I slurp out. “I eat cross-outs. I memorize bloodstains on my mattress. I finger the silence between my gender and my hairstyle—”

“I just don’t understand,” they interrupt. “What does blood and silence and the haunt between your legs have anything to do with—

“Tell me what you think when you look at my knots and curls,” I instruct.

She responds, “Pretty. Feminine. Lucky.”

I tell him that injecting a different box into my body doesn’t have to change the length of my hair.

He asks me, “Do you hunger for happy.”

I say, “I appetite for multiple choice and window panes.”

She tells me that I am too feminine to be called anything other than—

“And what distracts you away from now,” he interrupts.

I tell them, “Naming tomorrow.”