Pushed Into Being

Jessica Standifird

After Ocean Vuong’s “Headfirst”

When you were
                       pulled from
the surgical slit in my stomach,
   each of my sixteen years cried

Cradled by my arms and
    the eyes of strange grandmothers
in grocery stores,
you were mistaken for a porcelain doll.

You fooled us all with the delicacy of your skin.

We saw pale perfection but
you never cared for beauty,
            were tucking knowledge
     in the folds of your mind: a
love of science, biological cranks and
                             cogs of sinew and bone. A


my faith in creative linguistics might never understand.

Hearts beat and nervous systems whisper secrets in your ear,
       facts, figures, art of argument,
                                      solidify your stance.

I should have been a junkie.
I should have a whore.

But you rested
           just above the staples on my abdomen
holding me together
     to the ground, keeping us both stable—
you are gravity
           and my adversity was no match
for the weight
                                           of our becoming.

Jessica Standifird is a writer and musician living in Portland, Oregon. Her work has appeared most recently in Unchaste Anthology II, The Manifest Station, and is upcoming in Alchemy and the Ladybox Zine Trilogy. She is currently working on a memoir tentatively titled, A House Where Silence Is Failing. She also plays ukulele in the dark cabaret band, Bright & Shiny. You can find out more at jessicastandifird.com.

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Jessica Standifird

After Ocean Vuong’s “Headfirst”

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