I tried to quickly pass a fragile dead bird, but I realized this broken discolored eye was a toy. I stopped. A sort of raptor adorned with feathers carved into the body weathered sandy and brown to cartoon-sludge grey. It felt like I summoned this wreck; I had been thinking about my fading memory of dinosaurs, my fading desire to prove a boyhood by standards I disregard.
For Being Lived With
When he calls out Felicia, an old name, I’m pulled away from my body. I can only see the places that grew too much or not at all. When I hear Felicia I hear him saying, We’re a heterosexual couple, but still queer. I hear of course, you’re a lesbian. You and I sit in a creaky chair through a lecture on some ancient text. The lecturer gets worked up about the societal importance of naming a baby. He starts leaving off in the book… He claims that names make a person, forgetting myocardium or atrium. We sit in this chair, with your name our mom chose when she only saw you.
I get stopped every time I go through airport security. I am a red flag. You and I don’t go together, but stand in the monitor at the same time. They try to make sense of us in a moment, but it never quite works out. Wait here, they address you. There’s something wrong, they speak of me. First, she checks your hands that are too small. She wants to know whether or not you have drugs. Really, she is following procedure. When someone this ambiguous walks through the line, that person faces many steps. Is this your bag? an agent calls, across the group of people, to me near another agent starting to pat me down. My bag, with me in it, makes someone else search me as they search you. It’s awful to witness yourself get pat down. The agent searching you invites another woman to see oddity to pat you down in a place I forget exists. But now it exists in front of everyone. These women need you to go to a room off to the side, because they don’t feel comfortable with this body in front of them. I have never been such a problem to warrant being taken to this room. I didn’t even know where the private search room was until now. Until I had to walk into this frosted -glass showcase with two strangers that thought my body wasn’t the way it should’ve been.
Glancing at the exit, I stand at the sink. He steps in, makes eye contact, and backs out releasing the swinging door. Thin sheets of paper towel dry my hands, hoping to take long enough to not see him on the way down the hall. Question if I really should be going to the men’s room. It doesn’t matter trans people have high rates of UTIs, it’s unrelated. What is my body for, if not retention, if not constraint. He looked me in the eye as he backed away from the confusion of my body. I wish I could leave as quietly as he. Slip out of this mess with such quick feet, such simplicity. Decide I don’t belong here, go to the women’s room with no indecision. Lucky pity doesn’t often result in action. She walks into the women’s room; on my way out, she smiles, hey. Her voice curls into uptick question. Each gaze falls to vertex on terrazzo flooring.
About the Writer: Keagan Wheat writes poetry focused on FTM identity and his congenital heart disease. His work appears in Glass Mountain 24, Shards 4 & 7, and Sink Hollow Issue 8. He is the Poetry Editor of Defunkt Magazine. Living in Houston, Texas, he enjoys collecting odd dinosaur facts and listening to way too many hours of podcasts.