Labels Are For Jars

by Maddie Godfrey

my Dad is a mathematician
he raised me as a venn diagram
called me: half boy, half girl
we watched Quentin Tarantino,
and Tomb Raider
he taught me how to shave my legs
like he shaves his face

the day I got my hair cut off
he asked, “do you still look like a girl?”
I think he hoped I would maintain
the mirror reflection, that kept me the same

I think my Dad knew early
that I never suited a binary
and so we acted as
father and son,
puberty was not fun
I felt like my body betrayed
the censored secrets I fleed
you can’t be a venn diagram
once you start to bleed

instead
I was two fractions
that could not be made complete

I was the space within a failed high five
where two palms do not meet

if binary was a bathtub
my limbs were too lanky
to fit inside

and so like a high school graph,
I used colors
to distract and hide

I was taught you can’t bend gender
it is ruled lines on graph paper
traced with permanent marker
and so I was marked as Her
as female, women, she
but these labels were hand me downs
that never quite fit me

I have never felt trapped in my body
only trapped by what others expect from it
I have never been ashamed of my breasts
only of what they signify
these flesh mounds, tell tales
can never keep a secret safe

gender fluidity is not an equation, or a solution
it is the page number that remains un-notable
until you to need to make a reference

my Dad is no longer a mathematician
but he still loves me as a venn diagram
accepts the space where two circles combine
as Lara Croft, as Tarantino, both at the same time

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