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welcome to the club

they open you at birth,
the incision small
because you are small,
just enough room for your name,
the machinery of speech.

you are brought back
at intervals, sedated and unseamed,
you retain cloudy memories
of intrusion, a sudden awareness
of penis or vagina,
of shame.

eventually, you do not need
to return, trusted to maintain
your own machinery,
to shut yourself down
when you become strange,
to frighten no one and lose no time.


In the beginning was, yes, the Word,
he insists, but from there, we diverge,
enfleshed, but how? He says, God
came down and dwelt among us. I
say we looked up (as we do when we
think) and populated the heavens:
his I AM, the bigger and wiser of which
cannot be imagined, mine, my puny
and clueless twin, just that troubled
place in our dark, interior waters,
over which we lean, looking.  His
Creation took seven days, mine,
a lifetime, the spindly, shaking
legs of me, and those like me, daily
walking pitted roads hauling our buckets.
Living water, he says.  Yes, I very
much try to make it so. God’s son
gave himself to be broken on the cross,
he insists, that all might be saved.
I, too, send out my sons, my daughters,
who (in my eyes, at least) are without flaw,
to be broken, to be wretched among
men. I give them that all might converse
with serpents, eat of the apple and know,
and when he threatens that I am either
on the bus or off the bus, that I must
choose, I do.  I pull the cord and step
off and fall and fall, unafraid.

Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, Oregon. She has a chapbook, Forms Most Marvelous, forthcoming from dancing girl press (summer 2017). Her recent poems have appeared in numerous print/on-line journals, among them: Oyez, Red Paint Hill, The Ekphrastic Review, Serving House Journal, The Journal of Applied Poetics, Emerge Literary Journal, Timberline Review, The Prick of the Spindle, and Permafrost.