birth of venus

i found a tiny woman standing
in a pale shell on the beach. leaning in,
i asked her, "where do you keep
your razors?" all the mothers 
were burrowing in the sand. 
everyone was going ancient that year.
a bath house rose where there was
once a grocery store. my skin
turned to clay in the sun. my father,
the archeologist, held a magnefying glass
up to my face & asked me to blink.
i wanted to be smashed. the woman
shook her head. she couldn't speak yet.
i said slowly, "you are a woman" 
& she frowned, crouching in the wind. 
all boys are born without teeth 
or ambition. all girls are born 
with horns between their legs.
i was neither & both. i plucked
my own teeth from the bushes. 
what did this creatute know about 
self-meanding? i brushed her hair
like a doll & told her, "move along."
set her shell afloat in the ocean
& she glanced back at me once
to blow a kiss. gods are always
trying to convert you to their gender.
i washed my face in the salt ocean
& crawled on hands & knees 
back to the grove of egg shells
in search for the right blade.
i remember my birth in great detail.
a slit opening in the earth 
& myself emerging like a spill.
my mother claims all the credit
for taking the shovel out to the yard 
but she doesn't know what it was like
beforehand when all there was 
was drumming. that night, i would
finger paint the moon & ache for
the little woman floating
far out past the sand bar. 
i hoped she never got taller & 
that her mother stayed a shell. 
in the town, boys played flash light tag.
girls bought real houses 
for their human-sized dolls
& i watch the shadows
on the floor of my bedroom
stretch long with each 
passing pair of headlights.

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