Are you Reading This?

“you’d look great with a breast augmentation”

he mentions over coffee

 

“that way, you could actually”

“y’know”

“give me a proper tit job”

he mentions

one eyebrow raised

 

as though

because they’re a couple

he deserves

some kind of a claim

on her body

something that’s his.

 

it’s hard not to make this poem

all about him

but rather

about

how her body

is reduced

to a series of comparisons

to another woman’s body

 

as though

her body could be modified

like a car

personalised

to his tastes

 

never mind

the cost

or the risk

or the hours of after care

required.

 

wait, i’m sorry

are you reading this

man-in-the-poem?

 

 

this is for you.

 

her body

her choice

her body

her choice

her body

her choice

it’s

n     o    t

your

c    h   o  i  c   e

 

 

Literacy

In my final year

of high school

we had to do these tests

numeracy and literacy

 

and for the literacy test

we had to respond to

a certain theme or thing

and write about it.

 

We could write in whatever form

we liked. A story, a play, a recipe, a letter.

 

But we could never write

a poem.

 

A poem

divided judges

split panels

separated educators.

 

According to the test,

A poem

was emotional

a poem

was unreadable

a poem

was indecipherable.

Queer

I grew up

in a culture where

being queer, or being gay was

the butt of a joke

 

It was comedic

to be transgender

to be gay

to be a lesbian.

 

Whether it was

in a rom-com

with a camp young man

acting as friend and confidant

 

or whether it was

the drunken one-night stand

with a tall lady from Thailand

who’s anatomy didn’t ‘match’

whatever that means

 

or whether it was

the aggressive bull dyke

who could turn any straight girl gay

even for a day

 

It didn’t matter

as long as we were

funny

the same way

a gimmick is funny

cheap

expendable

colourful

temporary.

 

 

That is what I grew up with.

 

In my 20’s

it became subtler

it was subtext

it was undisclosed, unrevealed, concealed

and then

gradually

slowly

authors, actors, artists

creators

began to confirm

what we’d known

what we’d felt all along.

 

And we did away

with labels like

beloved friend

cherished companion

roommate,

perhaps the most

unfeeling of them all

 

 

Only be told

that those partnerships

we’d seen

we’d felt

were not part of the

literary canon

were not part of the plan

just not in the script

 

and then came the romances

ham-fisted

half-finished

hasty.

 

Because being queer

is socially acceptable

but just not profitable

right now.

 

 

But more and more

I hear the cry

for diversity

for representation

I see the artwork, fan or otherwise,

but most of all

I feel the struggle.

 

 

 

 

A Girl Has To

 

it is terrifying

how little

men may choose to know

about a woman’s period

 

were you not sitting beside me

in sex ed class? filling out the same book as me?

 

I studied

semen, and sperm,

seminal vesicles

ducts, glands, deep dorsal veins

and wet dreams

 

and still

all around me

I hear:

 

a girl only gets her period once in her life

 

a girl only gets her period after she’s had sex

 

a girl has to change her tampon

every time she pees

 

a girl has to wear tampons

all the time, every day, even when she sleeps

in case her period comes

 

a girl can choose

when she wants to have her period

like selecting the time for a parcel delivery.

 

cramps

are something that you have

in your stomach

and they aren’t really

that bad.

 

I understand

that all those sex ed classes

were awkward

and filled with things

filmed in the 80’s

 

but my 17-year-old self

would be alarmed

by how little you know

of my body

yet you declare

 

You want to be inside me.

 

 

The Assertion

you’re not fat, you’re pretty!

is the assertion

as if you can’t be both

 

or it’s

you should be

grateful

for my cat call

because it’s the only attention

you deserve

 

or it’s

embrace your curves!

and one hundred other labels

like plus-size

or chubby

or curvy

 

because you’re a ‘real’ woman

after all.

 

fat

is a word

to be spat

boldly, bluntly

a statement of fact

 

but it’s not what I would call you.

 

 

I wish the English language

wasn’t so narrow

because I find myself unable to describe

 

how much I cherish

how it feels when I touch you

the warmth

the weight of you

the strength of you

 

and all the little parts of you

that make up the sum of the whole

 

and if I had one wish

it would be to take all of those voices

and wrap them up in a ball

and throw them over the side of a ship

and let the sound of the waves

drown them out

 

until the two of us could hear

nothing at all.