At eight, she divined our haunting, unspoken union.


But if the truth had come tumbling from my mouth

like so many prized pebbles, they would not


have landed upon an upturned earth, but pulled

me instead into a deep and flooded quarry.


My father’s scrutiny, like swells of April ice muscling

northward, ground ashore and stole


my stuttering nerve, leaving me breathless

beneath fierce shards of his chill gaze.


Mother’s capacity for wonder was ample enough,

rising like the brown bread she kneaded with fingers


flour-dusted and pink, but her own body agonized

from shifts on the pediatric ward.


So she whispered and retreated within,

her voice just beyond the edge of possible—


and I learned to abide unfathomable passage.


Gina Marie Bernard

Gina Marie Bernard is a heavily tattooed transgender woman, retired roller derby vixen, and full-time English teacher. She lives in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her daughters, Maddie and Parker, own her heart. Her chapbook Naked, Gettin' Nuder was a 2018-2019 Glass Chapbook series finalist, and has been accepted for publication by Clare Songbirds Publishing. Her work has recently appeared in r.kv.r.y quarterly, The Hunger Journal, Waccamaw Journal, Rat's Ass Review, and Jet Fuel Review

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