TC Tolbert
This is what you are


missing Melissa – dust turned to waves

in the desert – okra coming up two months

too late – a forward breaking gate opening

into someone else’s field – I walk by

a window and I do not understand how little I see

you – but so clearly the wasp backing out

of a hole inside a long dead

tree – when we were children we lived

with our grandparents and I remember without

sadness mostly the sound of tires screaming into

the street – the porchlight welcomes

whatever intercepts it – I praise

insistence – I kiss

my love because our best friend died

when we were 5 years old – a brain tumor –

and then again at 7, 11, 17…43 – bodies

killing themselves by growing

beyond their own capacity – I am building

a bed for our visitors – it is infuriating how little

I understand about re-joining wood already broken

piece by piece – anticipate everything

I hear God saying to no one – I am still listening

when you stop, for a moment, breathing

in your sleep – I am recognizable

now as a part of the man who made me –

every man is a suspect – inside my own mouth

I am annoyed by who I cannot seem to be –

do you miss this Melissa – every part of our body

is ash aching to be reminded it is ash – unlike fire

reaching through the face of every forest

in order to be incited by wind or offered

some relief – I’ve learned to flinch

by standing absolutely still – it isn’t death exactly living

without you – the purpose of a rope

is to borrow someone else’s strength – that’s why

I’m calling you – when I pray I hear nothing

so clearly as our new voice

singe-scoured and full of disbelief –


Found In Volume 48, No. 03
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  • tc tolbert author photo 2 credit mamta popat
TC Tolbert
About the Author

TC Tolbert often identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, mover, and poet. And, s/he’s a human in love with humans doing human things. S/he is Tucson’s Poet Laureate and author of Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press 2014), four chapbooks, and co-editor of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books 2013).