The gift of this caramel skin
was given only to the women
of my kin, until I was born -
accidental and forlorn.

Fate endowed me with
a mysterious seed
of feminine energy, but
all I ever managed to fathom
of this oceanic magic
was to keep my mouth closed.
To bend when pressured,
to smile when threatened,
to be soft, to be pretty.

In spite of the deep fire
inherent in my family line,
I never learned to breathe it.
But with your god as my witness
she tried to teach me to be strong.
To protect me and mine,
to take up the space she felt
I, her only son,
deserved to take up.

Despite the confusion
of having had a boy-child
with a woman's watery eyes
she tried her damnedest
to put a knife in my hand
that might keep the world at bay.
But when I couldn't grasp it,
spilling the shameful tears of a man
that would grow to love other men,
she pushed the knife into my chest.

Hoped that I would die, rather than
leave me defenseless against a world
that left such harsh bruises
upon her own caramel skin.

Yet here I stand, bleeding still;
soft as ever, eyes wet, hands open.
Learning the alchemy of transmuting
blood, or maybe wine, into
an iron will to survive.