washington, d.c. 
by Hannah Truslow
Winner of the Amendment Literary Award 

  1. i see

the guiding vision warping, changing
“we stand in solidarity with sex workers’ rights movements”
becomes
“we stand in solidarity with all those exploited for sex and labor”

a lone trans pride flag,
trying to wave at me
from where it’s drowning in a sea of pink,
and pink and pink and

pink hats, cat-eared
when i blink, their afterimage stamps the inside of my eyelids,
once-comforting darkness lit blazing bright

on my right:
GROW SOME OVARIES

on my left:
NO UTERUS, NO OPINION

  1. i feel

the slick edge of a program,
held out to me by a woman campaigning for immigrants’ rights.
before i can get a grip, she is swept away
by a tidal wave of white skin
stampeding to see madonna

letters emblazoned on my chest:
“she wants the destruction of the patriarchy”
she burns through the material, searing my skin
all the way to the bone

 

my trans sisters,
they are like ghosts.
overlooked, they’re losing substance.
we link hands and i barely feel it.

cold wind on my face
the warmth i usually feel in women’s presence has left me.
i’m freezing solid,
turning to stone.

  1. i hear

gloria steinem
she stutters, umms; for eleven minutes,
she reminds us we are women, full stop, no need to split hairs.
the crowd is silent, hushed. they hang on her every word, reverent.

janet mock
she is compelling, captivating; for four and a half minutes,
she speaks of intersectional experience, of unity based on respect for difference.
the crowd is chanting, is noisy, is not paying attention. they drown her out.

when i comment on this, there it is.
a sibilant hiss:

shh!

  1. i smell

a miasma of street vendor food,
prices hiked sky-high

portable toilets, stinking
of the offerings –
the ashes of your first training bra,
mixed with a quarter cup of menstrual blood –
laid on the step, granting access to those who seek entry
to this blue-plastic sanctuary

(a sprinkling of dried placenta is optional,
contingent on the motherhood status
of the womyn shitting out her $10 hot dog)

  1. i taste

bitter
fucking
defeat