What mysteries lie in ancestral roots,
what clues to illuminate the dysfunction
that permeated our familial ties, cursed
us with a pervasive sense of perversity?
We are a portrait of deviancy: still life
torsos, dismembered from birth, non-
conforming hormonal structures denied
reception in the aftermath of Victorianism.
An aunt, who despite her outer female
attributes earned the nickname Billy
tried her best to acclimatize to girlie legs,
distracted herself with industry, could not
bear the swirl of dresses, nor the reek
of men’s cologne, banished herself to
far off lands; followed a brother – also
optically illusive – knew himself as Liz,
adapted arms and legs of steel to bury
his essence, donned military rags, and
macho outbursts; failed to elude his
inner truth. Raised by this disembodied
woman, whose embittered cries echoed
through our hollow chambers, shattered
any attempts at compassion; we were
observers at a funeral, where the casket,
made of glass, held a lonely figure – head
and shoulders solely visible – all but dead,
suspended, like a science experiment gone
terribly wrong, abandoned, in a gel-like bath –
embalmed dysmorphia on private display.
Lacked the resources to understand the
complexity of their sufferings, too entwined
to be rational – ignorance blinded by shame.
Only now, in the light of current revelations,
is the depth of our misguided conclusions
made tragic – wish I could reach back through
time, adjust the settings to acceptance, but
lack the currency, have no resources, other
than these words, to communicate the sheer
brutality of discrimination – have witnessed
the bloodied carnage of authenticity oppressed.