The Child Formerly Known As _________

Cameron Awkward-Rich

is what your father calls you now. Yes, you know
your father loves you
but each time he will not name you

you feel a hole
bang open. Black pit. Runs straight through you
like a tunnel,
which is what it is.

There are tracks laid in the tunnel in you & a train.
Yes, that’s right, a train
& on the other end, a little girl.

The train is where each thing made for her that happens in your life
goes to travel to her & sometimes
you think you will die—

last night the man tugging at his crotch
says Have a good night girl or maybe he doesn’t
grab his crotch & means nothing or means well
but what does it matter?
He boards the train
with your father & your first girlfriend & the state of Michigan
& they all want to see the girl

& you’re carrying a train full of people who want you gone
or think you are gone.

But then the train is full & leaves
its station & leaves the hole
engine warm & then
it all feels faintly ridiculous—

who does that man think you are, anyway?
Even if you are a girl, you don’t look like the kind who would want him, though you do
in another life where he says girl with a slightly different inflection
& means he is the kind of man who wants a boy to ruin him.
To carve a hole & move inside.

But that isn’t how it happened.
You’re the one with the hole

with the little girl inside the hole
with the father standing at the edge, calling & calling
for her & never you
& you can’t blame him—

you’d rather be her
or at least bury her, seal her shut
or shut her up
& in the end, isn’t that what we all want?

To not feel so
split? To carry an image of ourselves
inside ourselves & know exactly what we mean

when we say I— . I— .

I— ?

Last updated November 07, 2022