By profession, I’m nothing. When I was young, mother said, be whatever you want, but what was in her mind, she did not tell, only it should keep you safe. So, I choose to become an impostor. On the playground, I tried to be them, the certified boys, would mirror their movements as shadow does to a body. In the classroom, I sat with my thighs set wide apart and joked in a language I heard them use. But, a lie is a lie and a shadow a mere deceit. A giggle and the mirror shatters. Once, as a punishment, the sport's teacher refused to let us play and we sat in a circle, determined to kill time, when a boy said, you sometimes act like a girl and I knew I’d fail in my endeavour. Imagine, years of dedication turned to ruin. Oh mother, nothing in this world is without teeth and how foolish it was to believe a shadow could desire to be the whole body. Since then all I wanted was to be called grown, to know I survived the worst. After all, what is survival if not breath after breath after breath.
-- Ashish Kumar Singh (he/him) is a queer poet from India with a Master’s degree in English Literature. His works have appeared- or are forthcoming- in Passages North, Chestnut Review, Fourteen Poems, Foglifter Press, Banshee and elsewhere. Currently, he serves as an editorial assistant at Visual Verse and reads poetry submissions for ANMLY.