Two Poems by Jessica Covil
For My Sister, After Transition
by Jessica Covil
I feel like I have known you a lifetime;
and, in a way, I guess I could say
I have known you since girlhood.
So I have written you into memories
of my favorite girlhood rituals—
the ones where we clap out Apples on a Stick
and talk about Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack
or that Chinese restaurant we went to.
You are braiding my hair into waterfalls…
the ones we’ve been told not to chase
but we do anyway,
sneaking past locked doors and off to playgrounds
while parents are tied up in frazzled chords
and the shouting phone calls they feed into.
Did you know I wrote about you in my diary?
But you can’t get in without the code, the key,
the voice recognition that is too high-tech for me—
so I have to break in too.
I am still figuring out who I am
and how I’d like to sound to myself,
let alone, to you.
I’d like to tell you about Tyler Brown, or Michael Green.
And no, I don’t know why
all my crushes’ last names are colors,
except that maybe that’s how I feel right now,
all full of the rainbow.
And maybe cuz the biggest way to say “I like you”
is to let someone borrow your crayons
and doodle with you.
(Which still feels true.)
We’ll stay awake ‘til the break of dawn
to prove that the Sun is no stronger
than the daughters here assembled.
This is a challenge we take seriously,
whatever uproarious giggling fits might transpire.
We’ll consume gallons of gossip
and a whole pan of brownies if necessary
for the successful completion of this task.
Everyone knows that us girls hafta stick together
and one early snoozer will compromise the entire mission.
So if you try sleeping,
I can’t let you.
I believe in magic.
And plus, I think we might be it.
I wrote a story about a leprechaun and you liked that,
and you are always coming up with extra hair ties.
And how else would you have known about my crush
when I hadn’t even told anyone??
So we put on mascara to see if it’s true
and wish on every eyelash sacrificed in this endeavor.
We’ve known about spells
ever since our first dandelions—
blown away by our presence,
grown gray like our grandmas
or the lady next door.
We give her flowers, too,
not understanding she’d probably like to leave them
in the garden she’s planted them in…
she’s so happy and smiling when she sees us.
I bet she’s magic, too.
The reason I have put you in all these stanzas
is because I love you.
And the reason I have re-membered you in these rituals
is because you belong there
and it feels unfair that we just met two years ago.
I mean, did you always know that you were magic?
And most importantly
I am glad we still have braids and sleepovers
and all the movies and makeup
and heart-to-hearts that sisterhood is made of.
You are the girl I was waiting to know
and the friend I’ll always keep,
so maybe we need necklaces that say so.
by Jessica Covil
She is strong, eloquent, brave:
this icon of a woman harmed,
but healed enough to tell what happened.
That thousands, millions of women
around the world
have been made to live in silence
is a testament to this shame
we inherit and keep passing down.
And I would love for every person,
woman or not,
to feel like they could share,
that they could warn and transform
and all the things we collectively put on them—
I also know how it feels
to be a token:
to be tasked with
your own spiritual, emotional healing
and everybody else’s.
In my most sacred dreams,
what I actually imagine is
a woman opening up
to tell her story—
on her own terms, in her own words—
or deciding for herself
that you are not worthy
of hearing it,
and her wounds are the latest on a list
of things she doesn’t owe.
That unsilencing is an invitation,
but not her public burden
or even her own private problem.