when i asked my doctor for a lifeboat
i had to explain to him
what gender dysphoria was.
“i’m drowning,” i said.

“I don’t know what that is,” he said.
i have been on a waitlist for two years
and treading water since i was twelve.

dysphoria collects in spoonfuls,
crystallizes as salt, sinks into tally marks,
sinks into skin. i don’t look down
without my nylon armour. i would rather
break my ribs than look down.

i found a lump in my breast.
i’ll tell you a secret: a part of me
wished it was cancer. i could finally
get a mastectomy. but it was benign,
only take a slit to remove it,
an optional procedure. from the moment
of discovery to surgery, it took three months.
it has been eight years of treading water.

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