Ghazal of the Flesh


God, or a cell clot rooting in her walls: so I became this flesh.
I am my mother’s suffocating growth: our sameness, flesh.

I know her memory as if it were my own: bones of the leg, ruptured glass.
Red light, a moment’s union of metal maimed this flesh.

She said: what bastard God would let that happen? Your body is whole.
Why can’t you just deal with being a man, if I overcame this flesh?

We wake into the weft of womanhood, closet of possible skins.
None allows full movement. Heavy cloak to tame is flesh.

We are followed: halogen eyes lurk the streets, nag our silhouettes.
I move among them as a bag of stolen limbs, flight of aimless flesh.

Her titanium calf, my smuggled sex, the alarms of airport security.
We are taken and known by gloves and screens to frame this flesh.

Now in the home I build with my partner, joy settles as slow weather.
We rise and set, make plans, wear the future’s blurry flame as flesh.

I find kinship with the God I was raised to doubt:
when our mothers grieved us, we rose and proclaimed this flesh.

She gloats of childbirth as a force my thin hips will never have.
But I long to mother. To hold, even to witness blameless flesh.

What do I do with all my severed wants? Which can be replanted?
In fields far from my origin I grow a trial plot of shameless flesh.

In me, a cloud of fists, a man like a petrified root, a woman in the detritus.
When a boy’s not a boy but a shift of wind, who can claim his flesh?

Rebecca Jane. My teeth and tongue sway like a church choir.
I’ll go no further in the old world. Lord and mother, I name this flesh.

Rebecca Bedell