Was not a monster— (His hands were soft)
Was not an abnormality— Was not just
“being a boy”— Had no reputation—
Had no warning signs— Was a brunet,
with soft hands— Had soft hands—
That’s the thing about it, his hands
were soft. He’d stare and stare, touch
and touch with the soft hands. He’d visit
me in my room, which is not an act of mercy.
Which is not an act of submission.
But his hands were soft, and he’d ride
his bike over to me— His eyes were soft,
and he’d show up pearled in sweat at my door—
I’d say, “how can I help”— I’d say, “I’m sorry”—
I’d say, “you’ve changed” and of course
I believed it every single time— Every
single time he would undo me and still
I said nothing— He would undo my friends
and still I said nothing— I don’t even know
how many more he undid, but still I did
nothing— Let the me able to be merciful
burn with the rest of it. His eyelashes.
His soft hands. Pushing me onto
the cold box-spring. Imagine it— just
seventeen, skin goosepimpling with desire—
My lips parting— Preparing
to forgive again and again
and again until there was nothing left.
Even this. Burn it all.
Added: Monday, June 13, 2022 / Used with permission.
Zefyr Lisowski is a trans disabled poet, Pisces, and multidisciplinary artist. The recipient of fellowships from Tin House, Blue Mountain Center, and more, she is a poetry co-editor at Apogee Journal, the winner of the 2022 Noemi Poetry Prize for Girl Work (Noemi Press 2024), and the author of the short Lizzie Borden murder book Blood Box (Black Lawrence Press, 2019). Zefyr grew up in the Great Dismal Swamp, North Carolina; she lives online at her website and in person in Brooklyn.
Image Description of photo of Zefyr Lisowski: A picture of Zefyr Lisowski facing the camera. She is a white trans femme wearing dark-rimmed glasses and her head is cocked slightly to the side. She smiles squinting slightly into the sun.