before I knew that our souls might move
from body to body after death,
I asked who was I before? to my mom
while climbing the stairs of my grandparent’s house,
a house that now possesses
snippets of my childhood.
Pool parties and Sunday dinners,
hidden beneath newly painted walls,
and so many other renovations
our hearts could never approve.
and my counselor
turned who were you before?
back on me
when I told her I’m trans.
I was myself,
certain parts still intact,
not yet fully restored,
the term “addiction”
still not in my toolbox.
reveling in rainbow stickers
anywhere they'd stick,
and a Melissa Etheridge album in my CD player.
When she asked that question,
I was reminded of all the versions of myself
I’ve already left behind,
and often forgotten.
James (he/him) is a poet in Olympia, Washington who does his best work between the hours of up-too-late and is-it-even-worth-trying-to-sleep? His poetry focuses on anxiety, recovery from alcoholism, nature, family, and being trans. His early work can be found in The Poet's Billow. You can follow him on Instragram @the_jamesiest or Twitter @sober_poet