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  You could have a big dipper   

Before by James Roach

Two years-old,

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.

35 years-old

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.

A lesbian

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,

so foreign

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

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