shopping for facial hair.

(photographs by/of Ana Mendieta)

We sit on a saturday in a part of brooklyn where farmers gather and, with coffee and crushed-up pretzels on our breath, we shop for facial hair. You wonder what it will be like when yours grows in; I wonder what it will feel like against me.

There are men with six o’clock shadows at noon and there are men with beards long enough to braid or bunch up into knots called dreadlocks. There are men with grey stuck to their dark. There are short ones and red ones. There are beard/moustache combinations. There are intricate moustaches that curl up and those which curl downward.

I gaze at the hairs you’ve got, the ones I’ve named, the ones I’ve poem’d about.

We sit on a bed sheet in the middle of brooklyn bridge park on a thursday where humans wait for outdoor movie to begin and, with ice cream and curried popcorn on our breath, we shop for facial hair. You wonder if yours will have interruptions of silver like you’ve got against your scalp; I wonder what it will be like to kiss you with new texture against your skin.

There are thick ones and beards like confetti sprinkled over cheeks. There are hipster beards and shadows of ones still growing. Facial hair becomes like cloud formations for us, as we search for images we see in each one.

I shop for chests. Wonder what it could be like to have a shirt that fits me exactly the way I long for–without intrusion of curve below collarbone. Men take off their shirts this time of year and we lust after the shape we desire on ourselves.

We point to the ones with slight musculature. I notice variations of nipples and ones with hair like a standing ovation all over chest. I tell you that maybe one day I’d like to have that one or that one. You tell me that however my body exists, I’ll be just as handsomely beautiful.

We sit on a concrete bench not too far from the chanting Hare Krishnas on a wednesday in manhattan and, with pickles and no-sugar-added sour cherry juice on our breath, we shop for our gender, ripening against our bones. You tell me that tomorrow, if I decided to wear a dress, you’d look at me just the same.

With our painted toe nails from that time we sugared our tongues with rainbow ices beside neighbor’s garden, we search the crowd for others like us. The ones experimenting with all the ways in which one could exist.

i am in between the sentence structure of this body.

None of this is easy to explain. I am called girl or woman or miss everyday.

How to explain: I know I look like all those words, but actually I am none of them.

How to explain: Can you ignore the length of my hair and yes, these pants were purchased in the “woman’s” section of nearby thrift shop, but that is just thread. And measurements and hairstyle shouldn’t declare my parts.

How to explain: There is not just one way to be or exist. Seven days arrive in each week and we can take on a new shape every hour, if we so choose. Not everything…not everyone needs to make sense. Boxes hide things and we should encourage one another to be out and take up space.

How to explain: I know you touched me there yesterday, but today I want to pretend that away. Today, I want to be closer to another gender, not the one I was assigned or the one you think I look most like, but the one I feel.

How to explain: Actually I am not in search of beautiful or pretty but handsome and hearty and smart.

How to explain: My genitals have nothing to do with my gender and asking about them only shows how boxed-in you are.

How to explain: Pronouns have begun to feel like masking tape, silencing my flesh.

How to explain: Sometimes bladders grow into force-fields of superhero strength because entering a room with a silhouette of a “WOMAN” or “MAN” feels unsafe or inaccurate. We need more gender-neutral spaces where we don’t have to choose.

How to explain: You can ask. You can make mistakes, but let’s allow room to discuss this. You can have gaps in your knowledge but how about we glue them with words so that we can all understand each other better.

 

 

Oh, like that.

the moment in which you arrive at the destination of your self.

“As it turns out, we’re all still learning to be men, or women, all still learning to be ourselves.”  
― 
Jennifer Finney BoylanShe’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders

So much of this is about perspective. How much are you willing to withstand. You’ve remained this long; you might as well keep going in this way. But what does it mean to pause your way out of yourself. What I mean is, what if you can’t continue like this. Yes, you are beautiful or of course, you are handsome, but that does not help you to survive this.

So you purchase a notebook. Grab a pen with enough ink to last through many rounds of notes. You begin to read every book swallowed by your skin. The memoirs of each scar. You cram hours of studying, forego sleep to become a scholar of your body. All this time you really thought you knew yourself, but you were just a stranger.

You circumcise your tongue anytime someone wants to know what hides behind your zipper. They question the strength of your gender. They search for consistency. Search for known markers: hair length, texture of clothing, the humans you hang around, your voice. You find yourself falling in love with humans who understand the blur of gender. You gravitate toward the ones who can speak on it for hours without running out of syllables. You tattoo more words on your skin to remind yourself to speak up more.

You silence your silence away.

This is the moment. This is the moment in which you contemplate labels. Maps. Where you want/need to be. You leave your hair alone. You make love to yourself as though you are no longer a stranger.You give up trying to find suitable spackle to fill in the cracks of your identity. Instead, you leave these cracks alone. They are fissures. They are openings. They are breaths. 

This is the moment you arrive.

 

 

remind me what it sounds like.

Talk about what it means to lose your voice.

Wait.

Talk about what it means to give your voice away and exchange it for a different pitch. To leave your tone behind because it never matched the way you heard yourself.

Talk about this new slope of sound coming from your lungs and lunging off your tongue.

i never knew your voice before it changed, so i cannot imagine it as anything but you

Talk about the sensation of hearing your voice echo against your ribcage. Is it softer now? Deeper? When you speak out your syllables, do you curve your back toward the resonance or are you still hesitant to call it yours?

sometimes i think about what it will be would be like to walk away from the ring tone of my voice

I gave away my voice a few years ago to a couple of strangers who misspelled my name and mangled my limbs into a paint stain. I traveled to nearby bodega, picked up a can of chick peas, an onion, some ginger and a voice. On a Sunday, I biked along a path full of yarrow, red maple, windflowers and picked a pinecone in the shape of my voice. I climbed a bridge and contemplated then executed a jump, felt several boroughs collide in the form of water washing away the trouble in my skin and there I spoke several octaves of breath control.

if only i could pick and choose what changes

 

speak your voice, pirate

I could be on the top of this earth, testing the width of my thigh span. Perhaps my right leg grazes Colorado and left leans against Missouri. When a body sits on an airplane, pressed between window’d seat and neurotic woman studying the “idiot’s guide to buying a home”, one may notice how square everything is down below.

There are perfect right angles and circles and everything is fifty shades of brown.

In this moment, I am so close to first class I can touch the curtain separating our economic differences and breathe in their high-thread-count-upholstered seats.

How many times have I fallen in love this past week? Safe love. The kind of love that needs no explanation or physical representation. The kind of love that remains in silence.

1. miso ground into a dressing over arugula salad with edamame and beets.

2. the lizard doing push-ups on Anne U White trail in Boulder. Even this tiny creature contemplates it’s own arm strength abilities– this is simultaneously sad and charming.

3. a young boy on his way toward second year of life and all the reminders of how two moms are so much better than one.

4. an attraction between cross-genre genders/ slur of denim’d hips and mutual vests on opposite chests/ eyes greener than sun-soaked moss/ a lick of lips as though preparing them for mine/ teeth large enough to bite into my language/ a flirt/ a missed connection/

5. everyone is trying to flatten themselves away! My stomach refuses to section off into six separate packs. Instead, I channel these mountains, which are far sexier in their curves than the flat screen door pushed close to get here.

6. boy raises money to remove breasts and I am in awe of his awareness of body. What gets to stay and what impostors must go? I’m still taking inventory of this body.

7. the couple who collide due to persistent photographer with bones made of magic fairy dust, sparkling beyond manufactured flash. The ways in which love can be seen, can be pressed, can cohabitate. I want to copyright the three beautiful versions of love I got to gaze upon in order to find some of my own.

8. that deer.

9. that cafe au lait with soy milk slinking down my throat and pressing me into wide awake-ness.

10. and what if I were to mention hym again? A mouth traveling miles before the first word emerges. Engaging in topics like coffee and hormones, and stimulants like caffeine and boners. I should have asked about preferred pronoun, so I’d know the proper way to press gendered human into this poem.

11. miles. voices. lawns. gardens. drag kings. poets. and a pirate that somehow lives inside all of us because we are all just choosing our own adventure within the shapes and colors and dialects around us.