Today, I am posting a poem form Poem-A-Day that I saved awhile ago, by Xan Phillips. But it also reminds me of a wonderful short poem by Stephen Crane, so I’m including them both.
I Never Felt Comfortable in My Own Skin So I Made a New One
I was on a walk when I was struck by the precarity of the gender that wore me,
which moved my matter, wrote books, and fell in love. as a child, I scoured
the forest for brittle cicada skins abandoned on trees. husks present differently now
a pair of nylons caught in the thicket, a beak surviving its decomposing bird,
a mural of George Floyd with a purple cock spray-painted on his beryl cheek.
among these discreet mutilations, I pull a line of thought through flesh
where a misled margin slept. I was uninhabitable before I snared a man
for his hide. I was not unlike the skin of a drum thriving under a stamina
that made music of me before I split. you wouldn’t recognize me now
if you saw me in the trees, played out, scattered to the undergrowth. I took a life
and returned it to scale and membrane. I foraged a life coated in plastic
and mud from the highway overpass. it reeked of wheatpiss and it was mine.
Copyright © 2022 by Xan Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 14, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
And this one, by Stephen Crane, perhaps 100 years before Xan Pillips:
In the Desert
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”
It seems to me Xan must have read this, but I haven’t found a way to contact them to ask.