The Change

My poem THE CHANGE, a finalist for the The Jane Lumley Prize, was published in

H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L:

“When I was still small I began growing antlers 
as a stag grows antlers, as a girl grows
breasts.”

Read the poem below.

 

(And I love this prompt Tausha Johnson came up with for incorporating magical realism into our writing, using “The Change” as a model!)

 

 

The Change

 

 

When I was still small I began growing antlers

as a stag grows antlers      as a girl grows

breasts      My chest remained flat & the blood

didn’t come      but the velvet skin

sprang spongy behind my temples      No one at school

laughed at the antlers like they did when I’d grown

hair under my arms & razor-scraped my shins

to the blood-bright thrill of the locked bathroom door

Mom said she would’ve given me warm

water & lotion    if I’d let her in    The girls asked could I

pierce my antlers like ears or a nose      & if they

hurt      The boys asked were they strong enough

to break glass      crush tin cans      & how long

would they grow       The doctor

said to stick out my tongue & drink

peach tea from a soda fountain in the nurse’s

lounge so I could pee into a cup & prove

myself       Sometimes a female deer grows

a stub       He asked if there was any chance I could be

growing something else      I told mom

there was a boy but it didn’t mean anything

I couldn’t even use a tampon yet

Soon small red birds gathered & settled

as the velvet turned to bone      matured into branches

They were too heavy & I knew I had a choice

Mom scoured every myth      required

every curandera crack eggs

over my belly      rub sagebrush across

my forehead      chant & pray      One even told me

to sing      I could learn to love my antlers      or I could

wait      see if they fell off on their own        see how long

would they stay gone

 

(appeared in my book Girl with Death Mask, Indiana Review Press/Blue Light Books, 2018)

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