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The Only Atlas We Need Is One Drafted by Children

I know, because a woman told me,

even a horse’s shoe against stone

can spark a fire that wilds too far.

All humans have forged in the embers

combusts, eventually. The copper busts

of men who believed only in genocide,

are common as clouds. The barrels

of 357s were born red hot, before

they tucked themselves into angry

mens’ waistbands. Yes, I only write

about my body because nobody

wants me to have one. This is not

a lonely life. This is the truth of all

people I have kissed, under the shade

of weeping willows. In Pennsylvania,

we are known to gamble our money

as much as our lives: scratch-offs,

Powerball, lifting rocks to wrestle

both king and coral snakes. Red

touching black, safe for Jack. Red touching

yellow, kill a fellow. Children in a forest

depend on verse, limerick, the iambs

of wind throbbing through birch trees.

Across the country, my desert family

drinks exclusively Pacifico, and grafts

the wounds of cacti—two species eager

to grow as one. This is all to say, most

people understand more about transness

than they let on. My small town let me

play baseball with the boys, let me

dodge the goose shit littering right field,

and let me lead off. All transgression

of gender permissible, if I batted over

.300, listened to 3 Doors Down, Creed,

and supported the war. What comes first,

the hatred, or the curriculum to teach it?

I memorized four centuries of papal

reign before the periodic table. I knew

atomic warfare before the atoms bumping

together to build it. I learned I was alive

before I learned how I became so—

parents all atomic and chaffing. Some

things are inevitable, like rain in April,

a teenager’s newfound lust, and disease

dancing through a child’s poorly tended

ant farm. Somewhere, a child is playing

cartographer in the woods—making

maps of worm writing. Somewhere,