Am I a Woman?

Am I a woman?
I forget.
I climb to the stars
and boast of killing a thousand men.
But I only dream.

I tucked a clod of hair behind my ears
and wondered if they could
see through me.
Yes, that one,
she is trying to be a woman again.

No, I cannot hide
the faint mustache over my lip,
the roughness of my voice that scratches instead of lulls,
the lack of breasts and hips
jutting out from beneath flannel shirts.

And yet I watch myself bleed away,
each month bringing new pains
I cannot hide,
bringing me closer to womankind.
How can I feel full of life then?
It drips away, flushes away
and I blink away blood,
so much of it surrounding me.

It is not enough to hold
a man in my embrace.
He will only look at me later,
with disgust,
and turn out the lights
to fuck me again.
He might as well be
fucking down a hole.

Can I be a woman
merely because I am not a man?
Because I cannot hurt others,
I hurt myself.
I shed tears for things
a true man may laugh at.
The hand I raise is weak,
though I strike with my words.

Yet I live by the same ideals,
love with the same heart,
and will die the same painful death
as many a man.
Can I help it if
my limbs, my innards, my soul
seem much the same as others?

But I am not a man.
I am a woman.
Am I not?

22 June 1992
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Sylvia Chong (