Arizona Boy

by Kai River Blevins

It must have been March.
The Palo Verde trees looked
particularly lonely, but
their leaves would return
soon enough, when the
spring rain soaked their roots.

I must have been five,
maybe six, maybe child,
maybe monster. I could
never tell. I only knew
that time was my enemy.
I was growing into a body

that everyone told me was
Boy. I was fat and weird.
I cared more about the
spelling bee than football.
I played violin and had books
for friends. I called it being

happy. Other people
called it faggot, called
it dangerous, called it
too much like girl. I was
always too much sorry,
not enough fist.

The difference met my
skin like a glacier, left
craters deep as my fear.
I retreated like Palo Verde
trees in winter, surrounded by
gender’s cold touch.

I only understood Boy
when other people
branded the word on
my body with
their confusion.
Boy became bruise,

became bully,
became the laser beam in everyone’s eyes.
Boy did not live in this skin, only tried to
make itself at home here
when other people stared,
dressing me in blue and pink.

So I became green,
became Palo Verde tree.

When I first heard the
term “gender violence,”
I thought yes, it is.
I thought every inch of my
body is scar tissue, every pore
trying to erase its memory.

I thought it must be March.

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