Hannah was a bird-boned woman, bitter to the point of cruelty, and in it not unlike my own mother, but without the insight that ushers change. clunk. A haver of violence, a maker of fists. A mother of six.

I always thought that after Hannah’s death we would be released from her curse on our family. clunk. the inventor of so many tragedies. clunk. but now all I feel is an angry and hollow kind of grief. clunk. an ice chest in mine. clunk. A hole where our collective presence as a family should have been–but isn’t. clunk. A hole dug not by a person. clunk. but the bedrock-frayed blades of a shovel and a scythe, paired. clunk. colonialism and the continuity of trauma. clunk.

Now, it ends with me. clunk. I lay you to rest. clunk. I only use bitter herbs to clean.

I commit to life, to healing, to kindness–especially to those closest to me, the home that I build every day with heart in my hands: a strung skin, a heaving drum, the point of maximal impulse.


Dear Healthcare Provider:

I just wanted to thank you for being kind and generous with me today, your difficult patient who didn’t want to talk much and tried to dictate their own care and frowned during the entire appointment, feeling exposed, hurt, scared, worried about cost and humiliation.

See for me, being sick or injured, as a trans person, as a person underinsured by medicaid, as a person living under the dead limb of student debt in an economic storm–sick or injured is the most vulnerable place I can be. The scariest place I know is up on that examining table, every inch of skin I expose to you during our medical encounter a mile of inroads I have given you. I am weary, I am wary. I am taut to snap back if you show yourself a trap, a bully with a stethoscope, a critic on call.

Thank you for intuiting that I was not grumpy for the sake of grumpy, but worried about cost, slipping me a much-needed supply for my healing that would have been a squeeze in my budget, a budget already stretched thin on imagined money, loans and credit cards. I am up to the neck in debt and forever climbing, even while knowing that some day soon there are medical expenses coming that should be (but won’t be) covered by insurance, and that those things will cost me more than a whole year of college, more than a third of my annual income in my yet-to-entered field, my yet-to-be-gotten job.

Thank you for intuiting that I was not being stoic for machismo, but stoic because the masculinity I was socialized to does not go to the doctor til that dying breath, and while I am working on cowboying down and learning that having my masculinity recognized in the world does not mean self-neglect, I live with my father in my head calling every injury and illness overreacting, so if I am unprepared to tell you how and when I hurt, it is because there is a devil on my shoulder telling me self doubt is the best reaction to somatic pain. It is a long road, and my heart is only beginning to learn how to listen to the rest of my body.

I work in healthcare because of how hard it is for me to access it. So thank you for taking down the gate for an hour, so I too might have that thing we all need, care for the carer.

A trans nurse