the rose vine – “I Go by She”

“I Go by She”

I wear sunflower dresses

and draw black triangles on my eyes.

I love the smell of vanilla and honey

and the sparkle of stars in the moonlight.

So how can I blame anyone for assuming

my apparent femininity equates to womanhood?

I refer to myself as she not out of identity but out of 

passivity. Of course I’m a woman, I look like one.


I’m not a man but I don’t think I would complain

if tomorrow I awoke in the body of one.

Rather I think I’d feel the same; a stark indifference

to the very concept of my identity would not be new.

Perhaps that is my identity, indifference.

Because man I don’t think I feel like a woman

but nonbinary is reserved for short hair and androgyny.


I wonder

If I cut my hair and wore loose clothes

threw out my dresses and stopped wearing makeup

would I feel comfortable identifying with the identity

that I feel comfortable with? Would I feel comfortable 

escaping the binary and asking to be called they?

Would shedding my identity allow me to be true to it?

But I love my hair, my tight clothes and flowing skirts.

I enjoy my femininity yet feel disconnected from womanhood.

So I don’t have a clue what my preferred pronouns are,

but I go by she.


the rose vine – “Ophelia”


femininity the existence

or femininity the institution

which do I oppose? 

existing in my natural state

is to be subpar.




no wonder I would want to be rid of the whole,

but the latter question remains.

           I don’t have an answer.

I love my body but intrinsically don’t

                    as all girls are trained

to love their bodies when men do

and men love what they love.

                                 the bitter taste on my tongue…


but what makes a woman a woman?

                      and what could make me not?

setting women up for a lifetime of use 

                                                                  and discard.

to place their value on desire

the red of her lip, the curve in her hip

the way the volume of her chest attracts more

that the words of a woman ever could.


and I want to answer there is something more.

           an essence of an essence, 

                                 quintessential othering

“be true to yourself” mantra 

           I followed from birth.

I want to say I knew I was different from the other girls

when I was five and liked science 

                                                       but girls like science.

or when I was fourteen and hated my chest 

                                                                  but truthfully?

for a while I thought it was all I was worth. 


and sometimes I fear all my love is narcissistic.

that my love of men is love 

                                            of who I wish I was 

and my love of women is fetishized envy

love of those who effortlessly embody what I struggle

                                 to perform.


           but not entirely.


there are moments in the dead of night

           and the break of dawn

when someone is being unequivocally


that is what I love the most

                                 the one thing I know 

I can never be.


the rose vine – “Eternity, for Men”

“Eternity, For Men”

I can’t explain who I am without the stuff

I own. The space I inhibit in this room,

the full length mirror and the floor camouflaged

in boy-jeans and flowing dresses

silent yet screaming at me, “boy or girl?

Boy or girl? 



I glance at my closet, for a moment finding silence 

in the cologne I spent entirely too much 

on because I thought it would make me happy

and it did, for a time. Every inhale brought euphoria

that never seemed enough. I need more

to prove who I am to me, to you.


I inhale, the one symbol of masculinity uninhibited 

by my mother’s curves

or the chest still unmapped.

It smelled of leather and fire,

the ex-boyfriend’s garage 

before I knew wanting 

to be someone and with someone weren’t the same thing.


Of course I knew. 

The way I crossed my arms 

and bound my chest before it developed

before I learned 

no one wants an it.


Before that boyfriend called me Eric and laughed.

Before I knew laughter as the consequence of sincerity.

Before I accepted laughter and abandoned sincerity.