by Stephen Paden

sometime around 5 am
my mind tricked me
intangible feelings
pregnant with lies

i leaned against a palm tree
awaiting introduction
to the new me
manhood erased, a new woman born

beyond the crowd
familiar faces
past memories
an old girlfriend glowing with recognition

her smile shone brighter
as she approached
revealing love, pride, and absolution
for the woman she beheld

“You look radiant,” she said.
“We always suspected–”
“i’m not gay,” i said.
“But thanks.”

and in that moment
her love poured over me
joy, now tangible
like a soft linen sheet

i wrapped it around me
and bathed in my new body
between my legs
not sex, but identity

then clouds rolled in
a piercing cry
from my alarm clock
the dream gone

i lay in my bed
like a broken statue
soul-shattered horror
as loss became death

Who was i now?
What did it mean?
Was it joy or the woman,
where i finally found peace?

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