What is it in a man that makes him keep secrets?
The secrets of his tenderness & his passion?
When I was convinced I was a girl, men had this layer glazed over on top of their eyes. The things I’m not supposed to know. The things they aren’t supposed to share.
But sometimes, the film from their eyes deteriorates.
And they see that I am a man too.
A safe man.
Their wings melt in the sun when they fly too close.
I grew mine myself.
I am a man to share the “I always loved him”s with.
To be whispering and not know why
As if saying the truth too loud would mean that the echoes from our vocal cords would come back as ghosts to haunt us in our twilight hours.
But once men get into a gaggle of 3 or more, the screen over their eyes comes back. Suddenly I’m not there. Suddenly I’m just a little boy among men.
When just moments before, they were weeping in my arms.
Isn’t it exhausting to be in a closet you built for yourself?
Splintered wood poking at your skin. The smell of mothballs suffocating you.
You don’t even wear the same clothes anymore!
Put them in boxes! Clean up this space! Even the termites can’t bite on this wood anymore
Demolish. Break. Flood the room with fabrics of the past.
It’s your room!
Go clean it up!
I feel like I were a tree, I would be a weeping willow tree on a grassy sunny hill by a river or swamp in New Orleans. People would go on picnics with their loved ones and sit in my shade. Or maybe small children would play hide and go seek around me, or dream up stories to reenact and chase around my roots and trunk. They would dance and play in my drooping stems that tangle into each other like strands of hair. When I was a kid I desperately wanted to know how to braid my own hair but I wasn’t very good at it. One of the remnants of my anxieties of being a “failed girl”. I always thought weeping willows looked like they were the most sentient kinds of trees. I just liked that they had hair you could practice braiding. I’ve never been to New Orleans but weeping willows always reminded me of what I imagined my grandma must have been surrounded by. The smell of humid air, swamp bubbles, gumbo, crawdads, the sounds of funeral jazz parades rewriting what Black grief looks like.
There is something so beautiful about a tree that weeps- flowing tears shaded green instead of blue-frozen on a stem attached to a living, breathing tree. I feel like I would have flowers towards my roots, maybe some flower buds blossoming on my trunk like that one tree in my backyard that I like so much. Hell, I’m literally writing this while sitting in the tree my mom planted when I was 6. 20 years ago, Sean and I took a picture together standing next to this very tree when it was no more than a twig with some leaves sprouting. I grew up quite literally with this tree. I knew when we took this picture at 6 years old, that my adult self was then looking back at me lovingly.
I knew I wasn’t going to grow up being a woman. I knew I would be something deeply needed and magical. It’s funny, I used to be so scared of climbing trees. Didn’t like heights first of all, but I also hated how much of a spectacle it made of my body. Or at least that’s what it felt like. Dad was great at climbing trees-always loved it. Maybe I was afraid I would find yet another thing I wasn’t good at. Another thing about trees is it requires you to trust yourself that you won’t fall and I so rarely felt like I could trust my body. I am lucky to be born able-bodied and yet I was so scared to see what I’m capable of. I know I’ve veered off from the prompt but, I like telling this story. Trusting myself and my body is requiring me to accept my body. Trees don’t have to do that. Trees are already knowing of what they are- rooted into the soil. We should all be like trees. My roots would touch water. They would curl into the swamp like roller coaster tracks looping around themselves. They would be thick and sappy- Just like me haha. Salamanders and birds would make a home in me. Part of me is rooted in the grassy hill and the rest of me leaks into the swamp. I’m a short and stubby willow tree but that makes me great practice for the timid children, scared of trusting themselves, to be able to start their journey to climb to great heights.
Photos with Nathan Blue in Febuary