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Through the Clinic, I Pass photo

An emergency of body is an emergency of mind. I sign my name and take a seat to watch Friends. The LGBT clinic is on the eastern side while the women’s clinic is on the western side.  The building is neat, crisp but worn. Someone cares; even when the pay is min, even when the pay is when someone cares; urgency is exigency.

I do not pass anywhere but here. Not yet, possibly not ever.  It does not matter.

The house was on fire, and now it isn’t.

Everyone is kind. Everyone knows why I’m here, though up-front the Bible Karens with signs throw side-eyes like I’m a man and not something entirely open like the forest mind.

The clinic is busy. I wait. I wonder if I’m broken, but wonder passes. I have given up doom.

How many trans folx have sat in the same spot wondering whether or not they’re going to live or not? It is as if I am porous, soft as wood in the wild, queered in green over green growing tangled beyond the field. A soft tree feeling the whole of the forest move through its fibrous rings.

I am going to live.

A young woman is ushered into the intersection of the clinic by a nurse. The young woman waits on a man. The nurse gently holds her hand while holding the door open to let in hope. But he isn’t outside. Eventually, the nurse ushers her back to the cool western waiting room to wait.

So many men have carried a body through these doors, so many men arrive to pick up and carry a body across a city, across the shame of powerlessness. Working two jobs or not working or drunk or not drinking or loving and care-worn or angry at the inconvenience of it all.

The clinic walls are glossed in fresh paint, faith folded in every brush stroke. The first time I arrived at the clinic I held onto a name, clutching my bag to my chest, breathing, at last, sitting next to mothers waiting on mothers who would be mothers no longer, their faith folded into their hands as they waited;  we are here to live again.

A man arrives owning maleness in a way I never could; even at best I was a glamour upon a glamour upon a glamour, a mouth devouring a mouth devouring a mouth. The man doesn’t look at me. He scoped the room, his hands like stones at his side.  He makes a complete circle before the nurse opens the waiting room door and gently, so gently, lures the man to the woman he is to carry home.

How many men has the nurse ushered through those farther doors? Her smile says it all. For a second, the white noise of the Bible Karens presses inward, then the nurse shutters the door, and the sound of Friends fills the emptiness.

How much hope has been gathered in this room? How much worry?

I am called through the eastern door by a voice that rings. I answer the call, my name, a chorus of strings.

image: Aaron Burch