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Family, or notes from the battlefield


As soon as she hands you the gift
you know it’s another one
“Trans Life Survivors”
says the cover
“Merry Christmas!”
says your sister
you have only been using
they/them pronouns
in private
for a year or so
it’ll look so beautiful next to
the ex-gay book
your other sister presented to you
on your birthday last month

At family dinner you
spend bathroom breaks in your
childhood bedroom
five in total
logging on to talk to us
about how the heavy things feel
being the punching bag
on which your 11-year-old cousin
practises her right hook
screaming fire about
her trans classmate
it stings
like a shattered jaw

Your father-in-law planned a
Christmas pub crawl of sorts
each of the siblings hosting
the entire family
for a portion of the day
hopping from house to house
eating, drinking, loving the way only
a big family will
At the fourth stop you are full
zonking off into the distance
catching the smiling face of your
sister-in-law on the way there
and you remember what
it felt like when
she wouldn’t come to your lesbian wedding

For you and them
there is no Family
not since you came out as non-binary
and your parents
“check please”
the only trace of
those you came from
is the card your grandmother sent
She writes “I wanted you to
know I support you”
She is a sweetheart
it is a teardrop in the desert
that you cling to

Your father was no exception
first the pandemic
now the respirator
the store has been extra busy these days
but you’re getting by
it’s keeping your mind off
of how much he was hoping
you’ll find a girl someday soon
Today, the phone call
from the hospital
lets you know that
he can come home for Christmas
The disappointment you feel
sits in your body like a monster

You have all the time in the world
to tell me how you’re doing
but not a moment to yourself
to commit to the act
with all those relatives in the house
prone to restricting themselves to
those parts of the Bible
that make Christianity look easy
and you being back
in the home of your youth
after the attempt
confirms what you fear and
what your parents have been saying
is true about your life
“I have no love for the gays in my heart”
your father said
You wonder how gay
he knows you are
I wonder where you’ve hidden
the Pride flag that I sent you
as a housewarming gift

Colossians 3:26 The freedom of HaShem is the wisdom to decide who is truly your sister, your brother, your father, your mother. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

This is a Scripture reflection on The Holy Family of Jesus, mary and Joseph, written for Vine & Fig.