Thursday, April 22, 2010

Etymology

Testosterone, strange that you'd let me
give birth
to my own body

even though I know I've always been
a boy, moving
toward what? Manhood? A constant

puberty? I could replace my menses
with a thick needle
filled with your fluid, thrust every

two weeks the rest of my life
into my thigh. And I think
of the six days of creation before

god rested, because I too am tired
and because my voice, would it suddenly be
god-like to me, thundering,

waking in a deep vibrato as if from atop
a mountain, maybe Olympus, maybe
a lightning bolt shot sharp

through my heart because I am
startled, scared, delighted? Testosterone,
you are the Magnetic

Fields, Elvis, and molasses, the first time
I heard Nina Simone sing, unsure of her
and my own sex at age 13. You are

and eighteen-wheeler ripping through
a hail storm, the umpire breathing
over the catcher's shoulder until

the ball burns into the mitt
and there is the deep growl
ascending, Strike one!

And I am struck
hard by the beauty of you. I am
again an eight-year-old boy, simply

admiring a tree in the school-yard, my only
friend, who lifts me
and lifts me so that I can pick

its single spring
flower, the lowest one, maybe
for my mother, maybe my father-

but end up placing it inside
my first and only dictionary, a gift
from my father on the first day

of that school year. And later
when it has dried, wilted, I
remove it. Only a stain left, small

shadow, the handprint
of a child quieting the words
it covers, tucks into his

memory, already knows by heart,
and keeps there, where they wait for him
until he is ready.

-Ely Shipley