Back to Issue Thirty-Five

Virginia was


Virginia was until there’s willow on the cushions,

until half a decade of Mamaw in her green chair
watching the same eight nature documentaries.

Just an ounce of coffee & gusts of prairie grass by morning.
        It’s not entirely aftermath

to say I don’t remember my great grandfather forgetting 
the grocery lists he had to keep taped up by the door.

Virginia my mother’s name, my mother’s mother’s name.
Inheritance, I mean. Wild strawberries in the meadow. A hospital gown.

        Virginia was until not remembering who I was.

Which presidents & funeral parlors now. Which pills not found
in my stomach. Which kin & kindling. Wild thistle, raspberry leaves.

        Daughter, daughter, grandson, granddaughter.
                No third namesake, no new tattoos.

Virginia & the end of metaphor. Virginia & opening every window.
                        Speculative rainfall. Imaginary cowlick.

& seeing the girl in the floor length skirt & combat 
        boots curtsy to the wren. The girl Virginia was

                until a shadow box of not one dress.
                                Virginia, butch as a waxwing. I’m shaving

my shins & crossing the houseplants. I made up history
        in spite of history. I blinked & was ancient. I winked & was

                her granddaughter. Who else
                could remember the girl I did not get to be?

A boy ago I was not this exquisite.
                The xanax & the trumpet vine. The climbing rose & the milk.

The name I can’t admit to wanting is still the one she would have forgotten.

Virginia, there’s nothing left of the past tense.
                Just some light I throw at the horizon & run toward 

        & run toward.


Harry Styles at the Met Gala



after sam sax

There’s a new century & he’s lace.
I won’t apologize.


I imagine wearing something like this to my wedding.

Or wedding someone wearing this.

Roses in the veil. What would my mother say about that.


At least if the boy in the photograph looked anything like you I could say I had a reason. I could say

he reminds me of you.
You remind me of you.

To think there was a time before I could no longer tell the difference.


Black rose on your arm, years black on either side of you.

Is there a way to say the light was pink or was it the floor.

The roses.

The years.

Gold as a frame, what he would hang from his ears if I asked.

If I asked.


The day behind the basketball court when [ ] called me what he called me.

The year behind his house, his mother’s roses downhearted in the heat.


On my knees in the new dirt, his car parked in the lot I turned my back towards.

If I lie to myself about this enough
it will, a century from now, be true.


There are no more other paradises.


The most I’ll-prove-it thing about me is that I’m not sure.

Is, like.

Look, look at.

That you could look at him & say yes, like that.

Mulch, lake-at-night, steam.

A photograph & a photograph.

That you can see his tattoos through the fabric.

Once a man opened my mouth & still, somewhere, still.


The kind of girl I could be
if someone had told me I could be a girl.
Almost one half of a scar from now.



God moves on the water like God on water.

Blink twice. Come closer. We are so with

& without precedence. A wrinkle. A tear.

This eye-bright split in the white fabric between us.


Bone corsage. Sheer black swan
& a wingspan.

King of I snuck out of the house for him.
The mood rings mood irrespective of gender.

Let the new century in. Rose.

Slick. Saint. Saint. Saint. Saint.


I pull a sickle from the lake & curve it back.

A gown from now. A gown ago.


Black sleeves. Black carpet.

Backless woman and an earring.

Take the sheet off the mirror.

I won’t apologize.


If death could wife me let me look like this.

Let me look like everyone we’ve ever wanted to die for.



Against Enclosure


For I through the law am dead to the law
–Galatians 2:19

 Six. Six wedding dresses arranged in sequence.
I sometimes have a body. Nevermind.

So I’ve seen enough chronology, enough stars slipped
Through cloud.	Six dresses. Six sisters. Secret spurs
Under the nettles. Under the sap was a sapless word.

Follow, follow. Needles at the edge of me, asleep

A clearing	Asleep’d and	labored in that room.

Lighly gathers in the recesses. The declension to parts.

Like chopping parsley, picking thyme. A softer falling off.

Distance of a pill to tongue, the stalactite tar.
Say falled. Say the apricot the lamb.

Theapric. Otthela mb. Mb. They were sisters. And falling.

Lace along the barricades, the wallwives, the day
Sweats. The dress is formed	has forms. I, on

the other hand. & sixly gathers the nettle & saps

Fuck the police is what I mean. A symmetry
Of lace laid out on the floor like a bridge. Abridged.

Hands in the middle now. Bucked to the floorboards.
O the crossdressed hours	O the faggot’d

Stains	How saint
was a past life then	How armed our ceremony now

I say a room here	The room heres	Its sound
Echoes	Like what	Like having been exterior
Once to softness     & bent	like a wheel back toward it

Bradley Trumpfheller (they/them) is a trans writer and student. They are the author of the chapbook Reconstructions (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2020) and the co-editor of the website Divedapper. They’ve received fellowships from MacDowell and the University of Texas, and currently live in Austin.

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