Brianna Gamble


My mother was the germ from which my life sprouted,

her hands my axiom in discipline.

Backtalk meant open palm pushing face into wall.

Classroom failure was merit for head to lovingly meet table.

When med school granted her acceptance, we gloried.

And when the coursework stress came,

I learned to walk like ballerinas–tiptoes and landmines.

When she tutored the girl I loved in biology,

she explained hormones, called ovaries and me “estrogen-machines.”

Now once a week I flick needle tips, clearing air bubbles,

and the irony of injecting estrogen is not lost on me.

These days it’s hormones and not fists, reshaping my face.

But when I look in the mirror, sometimes I jerk in fear.

And when coursework stress has me clinging my hands to weary temple,

or bottling screams for roommates who dare walk near me,

I weep.

I don’t know what to do.

Even when I grieve I look like you.

Brianna Gamble (she/they) is a student in her final semester at Monroe Community College. She studies creative writing, vampires, and how to make a mean gumbo. She has not previously been published.