It wasn’t that the cake was vulnerable
to teeth so much as meant for eating—a mouth’s entitlement,
or, in indulgence’s own belly, a Lego project of cells, a fetus.
That the baker was transgender
had nothing to do with his refusal to bake reveal-cakes, science-based,
announcing it’s a girl/I’m a boy—rather, a commitment to a diversity
of goods and to the good of diversity.
There are plenty of other things to let take on vulnerable:
all that is subject to wilting, a fan’s ear drums, evidence-based
studies, a ruler’s belief that praise is an entitlement,
slugs, a centenarian’s epidermis, the very notion of transgender
if we stop asking “what sex is the baby?” of each viable fetus.
Not to feed us is not to defeat us.
Even the Ark foregrounds diversity,
even the market saturated with goods, be they for trans
and/or cis consumers, a sister or a different sibling, catalog-vulnerable,
the very glint in the eye of capitalism, a title meant
to mean something, but based
in the wrong analogy, an algae dirtying the tank of logic, evidence-based
and reasoned. Sometimes, it’s all too much, and I curl like a fetus
inside the tub’s performance of an amniotic sac, self-care an entitlement.
I search on the Internet for the best diver city
and pack my wetsuit and rent some oxygen, my lungs vulnerable
to collapsing. “Every vacation is self-care!” my gender-
queer travel agent insists, knowing there are certain places where my gender
expression makes me more welcome than them, based
on another’s comfort, whether that person feels vulnerable
about his or her own flimsiness, the custard of every identity, from fetus
to agèd aviary, aflap with one’s own contained diversity.
“Self” is the entitlement
upon which all other entitlements
rest. “Self” is a pool in which all identities swim: fit and transgender,
preferrer of backstroke, preferrer of breast, farrier, ferryman, Head of Diversity
and Inclusion, bottom, top, one who values science-based
research, one who thinks science is bunk, top bunker, bottom bunker, fee-tussler,
arguing for fewer or more, lower or higher, fighting for the vulnerable
or against the vulnerable, protecting or retracting entitlements,
allowing the fetus of fact to grow into legible news, a trans-
lation based not on Autocorrect or autocracy—not divestment in place of diversity.
Kristi Maxwell is an assistant professor of English at the University of Louisville. Her five books include Realm Sixty-four and Hush Sessions, and she has new work forthcoming in Bennington Review and Black Warrior Review.
in your carpeted office you lay my life down / and say open up to that small room in my sternum.