by Chrysanthemum Tran
the funny thing about medical transition is how i’m expected to grow and expand into all the parts of me i wasn’t gifted. in other words, i can only be woman by sticking my ass with a needle. after all, woman is pinprick, a spot of blood reminding me what i cannot bear in my belly. i’ve got girlfriends going through their second puberty sprouting tits. they got curves in all the canyons women bury their silence in. but me? my skin carries all the evidence that i too have grown, just not in the most ideal ways. i am no red sequoyah scraping the horizon for its fruit. i am left to dry out. i am sap crusting around the mold, a bitter tongue after a tree’s canopy is cut for firewood. my girlfriends assume i’m already on mones. i’m so fish, i’m drowning on land. i’m so fish, people don’t even know which way i’m swimming. someone asked me what it’s like for me to become a boy when all that fat remains on my chest. but they’re not breasts. i know. i’ve tried molding them. i’ve imagined building a dairy farm from my lungs so i could one day nourish the children i can’t have. but more than anything, i am stuffing myself with everything the kitchen owns. i light the stove top with my hair. i rip the cabinets off with my teeth. i crush cinnamon between my thighs and get high off the fumes. i’m searing red hot. my ovaries are a self-cleaning oven. i tip the refrigerator over and funnel its insides into my own. i eat and everything grows. i swallow four knives and birth children whose tongues come out already sharpened. i eat and nothing dies. i eat and nurse my excess skin back to life. i coax the tigers from my stretch marks. i ring all the alarms. hibernation season is over. i grow and grow and grow and grow and eat with my hands and get full. i feel my not breasts and remember how i can still crave the taste of my own skin.
Chrysanthemum Tran is a queer Vietnamese American trans woman poet and teaching artist in Providence by way of Oklahoma City. In 2016, she became the first trans woman finalist of the Women of the World Poetry Slam. Chrysanthemum won “Best Poet” and “Best Poem” at the 2016 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, and “Pushing the Art Forward” in 2015. A 2016 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam champion and Pink Door Fellow, Chrysanthemum has been a member of the Providence national slam team and is the head coach of the Providence youth slam team. She has work published or forthcoming in The Offing and The Blueshift Journal.