By Talia Heyman (they/them/she/her)
Study of Women and Gender major
Smith College, Junior
Driving into the city on i-75,
I am 16 again
mistaking the accelerator for the brake pedal,
speeding through the stop sign or stopping at the green light.
I look out the window, and
yes, I can remember a time when I missed where I come from.
I don’t miss where I come from anymore
because I’ve found someplace safer,
where my heart sings without a muffler,
where people say my name singsong sappy
and no one wishes me dead,
where I don’t have to worry whether or not
my friends are on my side.
I am 16 again, he violates my body, and
my friends don’t take my side.
This was a time when I thought I recognized my face in the mirror, thought
a dress deemed me worthy of public presentation.
Dysphoria wasn’t even part of my vernacular
and that was the time when I needed it most.
When I needed it most,
I wandered lonesome into the bushes,
sat on a slab of dirty concrete and imagined getting older,
imagined a time when my darkness would no longer overshadow my light.
I am older now, I haven’t worn a dress in months.
My light emanates outwardly but
sometimes when I’m here again my pupils
forget to dilate
and it’s hard to see the light.