by Matthew Mitchell.
i still think about the endocrinologist lifting
my shirt to see how my ribs were jutting out
of the skin. she looked disappointed, studying
the way a contour of emaciation wrapped itself
around my abdomen—you’re much thinner than the
last time i saw you. i was heavier when i was young
& thought i was a regular boy. i couldn’t see my
feet underneath my belly until i was seventeen, &
maybe when the first jab landed, & i awoke to
subcutaneous testosterone injections forcing my
metabolism to overeat the fat beneath my muscle,
forcing my Y chromosome to quit hiding, it was
god giving me new life—since i’d been told it’s
painful to become a man. it was good for my father,
who wanted his son back, who always thought i was
a heavyweight prize fighter when he’d push me to
the ground every time i was suspended from school.
he once told me i needed more prayer, which was
code for i needed to be tougher, & watched our living
room carpet turn my stomach purple. he knows, now,
that i am an in-between, that we are in different weight
classes, that i think i’m one of the guys, but my genes
say otherwise—the strands in my dna helix are still
trying to understand each other. at night, god
sneaks into my bedroom, lifts my shirt, & punches my
gut, asks, how much does it sting, like he’s trying to see
the swelling of his own virility blacken. asks, has this ever
happened before, & looks to see if i can still remember.
Matthew is an intersex poet from Northeast Ohio trying to make his work as beautiful and wondrous as Vince Carter’s 360-Windmill dunk in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest. Meet him at your local coffee shop (not Starbucks, because the aforementioned poet’s partner’s family owns a coffee shop and the aforementioned poet refuses to cross enemy lines) if you want to talk about how Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” is the quintessential pop banger. His work appears in, or is forthcoming to, journals like BARNHOUSE, Noble/Gas Qtrly, The Indianapolis Review, Barren Magazine, and others. You can find them on twitter at @matt_mitchell48 and Instagram at @mattmitchell48.