Jude A. Misick
Days spent watching gold disappear
behind silver skyscrapers,
wind blowing over shorn hair,
destiny curdling in my veins,
this is what it feels like to be chosen,
the universe slowly making itself towards me;
a summer boy with brown eyes turning,
amber in the fading halcyon sky.
But then winter came, robbing me of all my light.
At night I reach out, meeting only cold sheets,
My fingertips longing for the warm flesh of another,
I listen for the sound of breath
aligning with my own,
but when I wake, its to the chill sneaking in through the glass,
to branches without leaves, a grey sky,
a stolen sun.
I spend my days higher than the clouds,
the spark of the lighter,
becomes sunlight I hold in my hand,
the smoke pouring out of my throat like fog,
and the haze in my head protects me from the messages I read,
from the men that live in my phone telling me all the reasons why
they won’t ever chose me,
too femme, too masc, too black, too much,
every word a snowflake that makes me shiver,
letting the frost dust my heart with flecks of white
until it's frozen solid, still.
And I don’t remember when I let the S.A.D. in,
when I opened my door and embraced him,
let him sink into my body, into my heart,
all I know is that the nights start getting longer,
and my sheets keep clinging to me in the morning, like hands,
and they whisper please, please don’t go,
they’re the only ones that have ever asked me to stay,
so I do, I let them hold me,
let them tangle their way between my legs and over my head,
they let me be apart of their world,
show me how to see through their grey eyes,
my breath the only sound between us,
as they hold me closer, closer, closer.
It didn’t use to be like this,
there were years spent in the daylight,
where the Florida sun spoiled me rotten,
until I smelled only of oranges and girlhood,
pink hair cascading down my back,
a summer girl, but still cold, still frozen.
Now they call me winter boy, of wind, of frost, and still of ice,
I choke on the smell of oranges, and spend my nights eating apples,
I eat them whole, core and all, and swallow the seeds one by one,
hoping that something beautiful will grow inside me,
I wait for the sun, to learn what summer will feel like on my new body,
instead all I get is more gray, more clouds covering up the sky,
keeping the light from touching my skin, from turning me bronze,
the wind raises the newly grown hairs on the back of my arms as I shiver.
I forget what the heat between my legs once felt like,
I forget how to weave magic into the words I paint on the page,
I forget the feeling that my own name gave me the first time I said it out loud.
And with every forgotten feeling the frost sinks in,
beneath my skin, into my bones, my blood,
and they display my frozen heart in the MoMA,
how beautiful they say, how beautiful, a poet who has shown us his very heart.
Surrounding it are signs not to touch, lest they ruin the art,
because that’s what they're always saying, that the more broken you are
the more beautiful the art and when I shove my frozen, still, heart from its perch,
its shattered pieces form a mosaic, and everyone will gasp in delight at the colors it forms,
but the only thing I ever see anymore is grey.
It’s getting harder to feel anything,
It's getting harder to care,
I read the news and what's left of my heart disintegrates,
I read the news and there’s nothing left of me to break,
no tears even as something faint flutters in my chest,
trying to tell me it's there,
and I wonder, how much longer until I become another story?
Black, trans there will always be a reason for them to kill me,
and I should be scared,
but what's the use in dreading the inevitable,
fear is just another fire that has been burned out,
leaving not even embers, not even ash, or an echo holding the hiss of flame.
And this thing beating in my chest doesn’t feel like mine anymore,
it feels only like a memory that was once mine,
of a flower blooming towards the sun,
but, everything withers in the winter,
only the ice survives.
Now the only thing in my chest,
is a ruined thing,
an apple with a worm squirming in the middle,
a rotten fruit dropped into the frozen ground and left to rot,
buried beneath frost and sleet and cold and ice,
as the city continues up ahead,
and I give into sleep, into the sheets, their soft palms and quiet whispers,
into the S.A.D. that rests behind my eyes, turning the world grey and white and grey.
But all buried things are also planted.
When spring comes, I will burst from the Earth,
a tree with a strong trunk and fresh fruit
spring boy, summer boy, sunlit, and golden brown,
leaves wet from the tears of a melting heart.
An apple tree, the fruit red and glistening in the sunlight,
waiting for an Adam to take me and warm me in his mouth,
and tell me I am holy,
despite his father’s wishes,
despite his father’s warnings and threats.
I will linger here, swaying in the breeze,
the sun anointing me in its glow,
waiting to be chosen;
not by God, but by a man.
September is the best time to find a new flat. You escape high rent by living in neighbourhoods the tube doesn’t reach. You remember moving from student halls to Friern Road and how obscene the train journey felt to Brixton because it was followed by eighteen stops on the bus. But it didn’t matter because South East London was finally going to be more tangible than The Windmill. And even though the fridge was empty, the room unfurnished and the call unreturned, your first night was happy and unintellectual: sitting cross-legged on the floor eating mango sorbet while it thundered. It would be the first and last time you’d meet your neighbours, the last time they would see the kettle you borrowed. And by the end of the contract, you’d learn to bleach the bath and your hair and to forgive the acerbic tongues of your friends. As you flattened the cardboard boxes, Paul mentioned you were an ingénue and that living on a street with a telephone booth meant good luck.
ON A VISIT TO HASTINGS AND RYE
You realise the churning pit below your ribcage has nothing to do with New Brutalism or the vague blue of the Thames. And even though you needed the city to be your scapegoat, you can’t help submitting to a sunny indifference when reading a billboard with William the Conqueror’s timeline or queuing for fish & chips. It took you looking at the English Channel to realise you’d rather be aimless in London if you have to be. You think about everyone who’s left and come back just to leave again. The Marylebone bookseller speaking about the Lamb House. How sunset happens at lunch for most of the year and the autumn summer is holding.