Poet Joshua Jennifer Espinoza believes language can be both a medium for transformation as well as a way for us to find our own identity. In her own words, Espinoza writes poetry to better understand herself and her position, but she also writes to honor the history that she's part of. In the poem "Wake Me Up When My Gender Ends", the young poet questions the preconceived ideas about gender and identity.
WAKE ME UP WHEN MY GENDER ENDS
I am here to tell you I have failed to perform gender once again
spending another day indoors hiding from the world
choked up over the television show where the audience guesses
if subjects are men in disguise or real women.
I suppose I mean to say the word tranny, innocuous in its execution
bloodless until you read the news or live inside it
always-forever at the tip of everything’s tongue, too messy to retreat
into its bed to slumber and let us be.
My mistress is silence herself. I think she might be a god or at least
godlike in the wonder she possesses
unlike static, unlike breathing, unlike thoughts that race with the urgency
of living in a lawless body.
Who is real? Who is allowed to be real? Who speaks themselves into
existence? Who dreams? Who has words
that froth and boil over with meaning? To fail at this is to soar
twice, three times as high as any manmade structure.
So why talk shit. Why make the light hide from itself. Here I am on
the couch with my legs crossed, being alive.
Here I am absorbing the words you have for me, epoch of panic
future of a disappearing woman.
Originally published by Hyperallergic.