poem: little trans dumpling

first(ish) draft of a poem composed during the 2020 Allied Media Conference, reflecting on archives, memory, and evidence (influenced by Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ “Evidence” in Octavia’s Brood) & the “Writing New Worlds” plenary with Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Walidah Imarisha, and Alexis De Veaux. Fun fact: I tried to read this poem to my bff/Canadian bf & couldn’t stop laughing after the third line, so I had to start over.  

little trans dumpling

after the shower, after hot water flowing over skin, cleansing
the steam clears, and you emerge in the mirror
like a perfect dumpling in a bamboo basket

I admit I do not know
are you ancestor or descendant
your freedom more bold than mine,
drawing me forward to you

do you feel us still with you?
the brush of a comrade’s hand on your neck as they find an errant tag,
tuck you back in

do you feel the hug that does not come until it is accepted
that moment when choice hangs delicate between our bodies

is it sacred, little brother, in your time?
when all touch comes only with permission
does your body remember how safety felt like ice cubes on a hot day
precious in the palm of your hand
armpits prickling with the anxiety of knowing it would be gone too soon

precious sibling, future elder, you are what we have traveled toward
the patter of our footsteps echoing forward
the cacophony of our yearning
a symphony of unrequited wishes

my love, my love, you are bearing so much legacy
an archive of kindnesses kissed into your skin, a blessing

I admit I never want to write this poem
my duty to leave testament heavy on my tongue
my fingers unwilling

but you will want to know where you came from
to page through the countless daily tragedies
of dropped pronouns, a thousand cuts from careless eyes

how some of us became invisible, disappeared, were taken
little sibling, my elder,
when you gaze at yourself in still water
you will see us with you, like the endless sea of stars, visible again

do not forget that we were happy,
do not forget that we, too,
we were also alive

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