This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

May-June 2017


New poetry by Gwen Benaway

Gwen Benaway@GwenBenaway


look, you won’t
like this truth

every girl competes,
edits herself daily

double checks,
avoids dessert.

we’re born again
in your eyes

in every man’s eyes
we become legendary

or not, pitiable,
just friends.

a women’s face
is her price tag.


I know niceties
demands we lie

but I’m trans,
the least girl

of any girl,
I know how

to play games
within desperation,

my body marketed
as experimental,

save for operations
to fix what can’t be sold.

pretty isn’t a birth trait,
it’s destiny.

stop reading to flip
through your phone

find photos of you
and who you love

weigh them-
the heavier one is your fate.


I wish I could be pretty
enough to matter.

even if hormones
dissolve me

when surgery
breaks me,

I’ll still be this girl,
smart as a storm

sharp as a silver knife
strong as a sermon

as ugly as
she is honest.

Gwen Benaway is of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. Her first collection of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead, was published in 2013 and her second collection of poetry, Passage, was released in 2016 from Kegedonce Press. Her third collection of poetry, What I Want is Not What I Hope For, is forthcoming from Bookthug in 2017–18.

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