from Paris with love

1_2563964aI rage because children live fearful
for their lives, because our answer
is always more bombs, because we think
that dead children are collateral damage
and that their parents deserve the despair
of losing a son or daughter so precious.

I storm because my peers forget
that people are real and they bleed
and they feel, and they cry, and they
lose their will to live when babies
are torn apart by a force they can’t control
sent by the government of a country
that hates them, and they don’t understand
why hatred exists, what they have done
in their ordinary lives to deserve it.

I cry because it could so easily
be my little boy raising his arms to a camera
because he believes it is a gun
because it could so easily
be my little boy having his world
destroyed by people he’s never met
because it could so easily
be my little boy laying dead in the dust
of wartorn country full of fear.

what wasn’t said

Nobody ever said, of me,
“and those eyelashes – wasted on a boy!”
but they were.

One Christmas morning I awoke
excited for a bright red bicycle
my first, red for strength and fire;

but it was pink.

The little boy I was knew pink wasn’t for me
(though the man I became adores it)
and disappointment seared through me
interwoven with the guilt of the audacity
of feeling disappointment.

Of course, my parents hadn’t known
I desperately wanted a red bike.
They saw their daughter and thought
she was beautiful and pink suited her.

Nobody ever said, of me,
“What a bonny wee lad! So handsome, so strong!”
but I was.

When I was ten I was so desperate
to fit in with the other boys
that I joined the school football team.

but I hated football.

I tried with every fibre of my small being
to play, and to play well, like the others.
But sport of any kind was not my forte,
perhaps an omen of the broken body
my adult self was to find himself inhabiting.

Of course, I was never one of the boys
I was the tomboy. Worse. The wannabe-tomboy,
a little girl who cut her hair short
but couldn’t even kick a ball across a field.

Nobody ever said, of me,
“He’ll grow up to be a good man one day.”
But I did.

Seventeen years later I found the courage to stop
trying to be the best girl a guy can be
I discarded her, the itchy suit I’d sweated through.

but she follows me.

She is a weight ever-attached to my ankle
taunting me with well-meaning but false pronouns
and pricking me thousands of times a day
with every ‘love’ and ‘darling’ from a stranger
with every ‘I’m sorry! I thought you was a geezer!’

Of course, they aren’t to know, and
of course, it won’t always be like this, and
I need to grow a thicker skin, really.
The perceptions of others shouldn’t define me.

Nobody ever said, of me,
“Congratulations! You have a beautiful baby boy!”
but they did.

Quinn Norman 31/07/2015

A Letter of Apology

I’m sorry that I let you believe
the bullshit binary beliefs
of cis society on sex.
I’m sorry I wouldn’t let you
speak up for yourself.

I’m sorry that a midwife
slapped your arse and declared
you were a certain type of person
based on what she saw between your legs.

I’m sorry I let you let them
dress you up like a pretty doll.
Looking back, you were beautiful
and I am sad for them
that you never existed.

I’m sorry I never told anybody
that the reason all your teddy bears
were boys, was because you felt
closer to them, that way.

I’m sorry I didn’t speak out.
I’m sorry that the boy within you
was hidden for so long
that he thought he’d disappeared
for far too many years.

I’m sorry you were so surprised
by blood between your thighs
though they’d told you to expect it
you’d prayed it would never arise.

I’m sorry for every lip gloss
in your sizeable collection
gathering dust in landfill
and I’m sorry for painting you
into a person you didn’t recognise.

I’m sorry I let you go off the tracks
into the bed of anyone who’d have you
I’m sorry I put you in so many
dangerous situations. I didn’t know.

I’m sorry I made you live
a heteronormative life of domesticity
without letting you question
who you were, because other people
were always more important than you.

I’m sorry it took me so long.
By now I’ve realised that this apology
is not to some unknown ex-person
but to my own self.

I’m sorry that I ever tried
to pretend I was something so foreign
that I never understood, even as
I played the role that the world
had so cruelly pushed upon me.

I’m sorry it took me twenty-seven years
to man up. To admit I was wrong.
To tell the Universe that it was wrong…
or maybe, like me, it knew all along?

I’m not sorry to be where I am now.
I’m not sorry to be ‘in the wrong body’;
I’m not sorry to not fit expectations
and I’m not sorry that my body’s
considered a variation on the norm.

I’m not sorry for my smooth face or high voice
though I wish they were different
they are material wishes to aid the world
in seeing me as I see myself.

This apology’s not to an older self
it is to me. There is no pre-me and post-me
there is just me. The only thing that changes
is how I present and am perceived
and how I want the world to perceive me.

I won’t speak to my former self, because he
was never she, he was a little boy like any other.
It was me who pushed him down
and now it’s me who will revive him
and give him the life he deserves

and now it’s me who will revive myself
and give myself the life I deserve.

Quinn Norman, 15/06/2015