August 25

Dear Leslie,

Curves and dots is one way to say question marks. I have sentences punctuated by curves and dots for you; little trees stoop over the shade of their creation for you. Perhaps I am the bothersome student who asks questions without listening; you may have already shared your truths in pages and orations I have yet to explore. Here are some questions I ask now.

When walking alone in the dark, did you walk tall or swagger as a man? No matter where you were in your identity, did you do this to dissuade strangers who might attack if they knew what body you were born into?

What spaces did you feel most comfortable in? Did you ever feel so joyous and present you grinned at the sky, equal parts certainty and disbelief, feeling as though you were part of a complicated 3-D jigsaw puzzle with all pieces finally present and being put together?

Throughout your life, did you care about the gender expressions of your lovers? Did you with your butch and transgender identities ever experience attraction to other butch, transgender, &/or nonbinary individuals?

Because you were butch, did you want your loves to be feminine?

How did you feel pressed up against someone sweet, strong, flowery, and gutsy who shied away from being called “woman” or “girl”? Did you respect their preferences?

Were you ever attracted to cis-gendered men? And did it scare you, gazing at a man, knowing you were an anomaly breaking all rules of attraction? Scaring even other butches?

Were you ever so fed up with the binary and heteronormativity you became pure stone or glacier? Did you throw parkas to the wind for strangers to catch when you were an ice age?

Did you ever feel alien? Did you question if you were an amnesiac astronaut from another solar system, squinting around wondering what was up with “He” and “She” differentiating nearly identical beings? And the purpose of waxing salons?

If you had the opportunity to scrub gender from the earth, would you take it?

You said, “Gender is the poetry each of us makes out of the language we are taught.” What new languages do you want babies to learn?

How did you sustain your fire?

I’m not real good with questions today and I apologize if these questions were too personal. But I do have more to ask eventually. I sit in the shade of those which remain with me.

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