—Köçekçe (“koo-check-cheh”) were songs written about third-gender / crossdressing Ottoman dancers who were considered “effeminate boys”.
Like those jellyfish that swell with future oxygen,
I live into my gender, balloon constantly rising
into atmosphere I’m sure I can’t breathe. I wish to be
the exact opposite of those moths that live
on caterpillar-digested food for their week- long lives. I hope I never stop
digesting myself, staying hungry. In my new wool tights
I feel foreign in my natural habitat, first mammal to walk
meteor-scorched plains still gray with dead possibility.
I don’t know what numbed out these genera in me since
three-year-old Kenan danced to Tarkan in my father’s Texas home
swirling my babaanne’s silks like a Köçek dancer.
I still hope to unearth those gracile Ottoman bones,
çarpare castagnettes and davul drums, any reminder
of those who came before. I will make soil from rock
for others to grow, live on sun alone. I will remake
my own DNA from my people’s nitrogen, secret it
in stromatolites in the western Tethys. When my beard digs
its rhizomes into my skin, breaking my soft Ottoman face
into fine filaments, I am ruined for contouring, according
to the drag show tip jar, yet I feel their filaments breaking
down the rock of my gender certainty. I consume myself
again, fossilize myself for the next extinction.