Meta Zahren

Meta Zahren

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.