After Feminism Is for Everybody, by bell hooks.
You are 32.
On your way to work, you listen to an audiobook
where bell hooks talks about
how difficult it is to teach boys feminism,
how feminist masculinity is often ignored
for simplified narratives of blame and finger pointing
rather than rebuilding society.
You are 27.
During an English department meeting,
a colleague from another school remarks
how good you are at
being the only man in the room.
You are 25.
On your daily walk around your neighborhood,
your dad calls.
He tells you about his family, the latest news about your cousin,
how nonsensical it is
her best friend to be a man.
You are 17.
You work in the kitchen of a restaurant.
You mostly interact with servers,
most of whom are women.
It is taken as a truism:
women get better tips than men; you belong in the kitchen.
You are 12.
During your sixth-grade class’s sex ed. unit,
your teacher talks about
biological differences between boys and girls.
She singles you out for being a boy with long eyelashes,
a trait associated with girls.
You are seven.
Your mom is driving you home from daycare.
You ask her about her day.
She tells you about work you don’t understand,
coworkers that frustrate her.
You ask her if her coworkers are her friends.
She tells you men and women
just can’t be friends.
You realize it
when the belt you’ve worn for a decade breaks —
the buckle torn through the thin, separated layers.
lament the trip to Target you’ll have to make to buy a new one
before asking yourself why you need one anyway.
Because men wear belts?
Because your eighth-grade history teacher humiliated one of your classmates who didn’t wear one?
Because you always have?
Have you just been stuck in a pattern— recessive, repetitive — this whole time?
Are you just a shipping container carried by someone else’s freight train?
You are enclosed.
All is black,
You see, you know
You are born.
light, shapes, colors
You reject them—
You are swaddled.
Differentiated colors spiral into fuzz
a foot away.
You care not for anything
save food and sleep.
You are young.
You recognize cities and names,
their stains and hues
You are adolescent.
Countries take shape;
shores erode to swerving waves,
Somewhere, someone cries
by a broken-down car on a dirt road.
You are grown.
You see the forest for the trees,
landmasses for the countries,
ocean for the seas—
You see the earth circle the sun,
harmonious and even—
in its neighborhood.
You are old.
You see the solar system fade
into a galaxy
into black tapestry.
You breathe nebulas,
bathe in chaos.
You live on the edge of the universe.