My Lion, My Sky
Beautiful, golden lion! Like a brick of gold, a forest sunset, desert, a whisper of caramel across the horizon. Her mane mussed by the wind, it carries the scent of woman and man and neither and all. Deep sad eyes, red orange jigsawed masculinity, after all pink was once for boys. He is plain cougar fur; he matches the cubs, the pack. A broom in his hand, a strained smile in his teeth. But wait! Now he is a blue jay, delicate summer days for one more week, a blend with a vibrant cloud and the promise of rain. In his feathers snow, a wind, a sunny hail. Black eyes without pupils survey us, interrogating who, what are you on the inside? Which? You must know! What is it, they cry, we need to tell them apart! You may fly in exactly one half of the sky.
I am the wing of the jay, a snake’s scales, the mane of the lion. My mane shall be womanly, its coarse hair the mark of my soft beauty. The fur of a lizard, the white fox spines, the leaping snail. The earth within me soars above the sky. Find my sky. I stretch my wings out to touch the infinite beauty of my possibility, freedom, endless, myself, all.
But I’m in captivity. The atmosphere closes around me, dribbling laughter. Bars extend down to the core of the earth and they tug at me, they approach, they reach out to squeeze me, and they dance in grotesque shapes. I huddle towards my wall, my back, my floor― I can’t breathe, I can’t stand, the world tilts, my cage is a circle. The circumference of this perfectly spherical prison revolves as I turn to gage my surroundings: the code rewrites itself to counter each thought that enters my mind, morphing and adapting to each desperate, half-formed thought that emerges to the surface of my mind. What irony gender cannot do the same!
The spherical cell has no air, it is white but it has no color, the only gravity I know is the denseness of the world; my prison. I am powerless to stop the oppressive nothingness that engulfs me in its grasp. There it eliminates my functionality, mystifies my close relations, and most likely invigorates the power-holders who amplify the insidiousness of the prison that parasitizes my community. We are confined in a sphere of shame and silence.
My sobs are the air, oppressive nothingness my everything. Do I constitute me? My body is not me. I can make it an imitation, but never a perfect comfortability.
To all my elders, siblings, and unborn future, I salute you. To those of us successful and educated, disenfranchised, persecuted, incarcerated, stripped of health care, homeless, in poverty, imprisoned in Chechen concentration camps, murdered, and silenced, to the future generation of Queer and trans warriors, I salute you.
My sky is an entrance wound, my lion a suicide statistic.
I am nothing. I am all.
Magdalena Smith is a 16-year-old writer, queer theorist, and activist. She is the Founder and Executive Director of SAPPHX, a youth-driven non-governmental organization working to ban LGBTQ+ conversion therapy in all 50 US states. She is a United Nations Youth Delegate and ardent political science, gender studies, and LGBTQ+ history nerd living in Ithaca, New York.