Dead in a Photobooth
We were high schoolers buying eyeliner
at end the world. The mall food court vibrated
with bats. I wanted enough faces so I could use them
like a stone path out of this moment.
My face skeletoned more each day. I was a boy
then a girl then a girl boy then a pair of eyes.
Row homes of teeth. My cheeks
dipped in to make bathing pools for reapers.
I have never succeeded in learning how to eat.
For a moment though I can catch a smile like a trout.
Throbbing scaled thing. Tomorrow there will be time
to take another. Glancing over my shoulder,
I say to myself, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Dead with Grandfather
In the forest made of canes, one is bound to fall
and kill you. This is why I am not often a man.
My grandfather died without a face so we knelt and knit a mask
for him to carry into the onward. I used to believe
in Summerland but now as I see him standing in the yard,
I know that most of us do not move on when we die.
We stand and look into windows
until they degrade. Houses fall away to leave room
for our staring. I check everything as if it’s going to change
while I’m not keeping vigil. He drinks straight from the bottle.
Smokes his pipe. I come out to join him.
Draw smoke into my lungs and think of the wars he saw.
He admits, “No one really wants to be a man.”
Dead with Sister-Self
In another life I am a nun and I come to my this-life self
and say, “You are going to die here.” For so long
I lived with a stomach full of apple trees. Arsenic seeds
rattling all night. I still can’t sleep. I wait for the alarm
as if it’s a lover. The bell acolyte is the best acolyte.
Motioning and saying, “We only have two servers.”
Wanting to be a boy is so much a part of me that I cannot imagine really being one.
Then I would need to cut off my hands and feed them
to the baptismal foundation. For years, my family left church early
and I was convinced that after we left the adults went into a back room
to make a human sacrifice. What have you done to day
in order to not be a sacrifice? I killed my nun-self with a candle stick
to the head. She falls in the sacristy. Bleeds water like a fountain.
BIO: Robin Gow is a trans poet and witch from rural Pennsylvania.
Photo by Sarah Leamy