PINOCCHIO (I Wish I Were a Real Boy)

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I wish I were a real boy.

The other boys have straight lines, geometric yet soft flesh.

But my timber body, made from the same oak as a casket,

is hilled with curves and rounds that separate me.

The other boys run and play with balls and sticks, but when I try to play too,

the pink ribbon strings of my puppet figure pull unwilling hands

towards dolls and dresses.

No matter how loud I scream, my voice still wavers as difference sets me apart.

No matter how loud I yell,

“I am a REAL BOY,

please don’t call me otherwise,” my ligneous nose still grows

as the curves of my hips and chest let everybody know that

I am not a real boy.

The other boys laugh and mock so hard that they bend over and hold the square stomach so much more angular than my own, they tell me, “Look at that chest.

“You’re not a real boy.

“You never will be.”

And as paper tears fall from a cedar face, I shakingly paint my wooden exterior the color of flesh,

wrap cloths and bandages around my chest in a feeble attempt to hide my greatest flaw,

and don the same t-shirts the real boys do.

I tell the world for a second time,

“I am a real boy.”

Again and again no one believes me, everybody laughs and scoffs and throws sickening slurs.

I wrap my chest so tight that bloody sap drips from my puppet exterior

but no matter how tightly I bind, the army still marches.

The same soldiers of dysphoria still scream and screech the same cancerous, cacophonous words: ‘she’, ‘her’, ‘girl’, ‘ma’am’, all thrown into my ears and my brain like acid.

But I don’t care now, because I know that under the curves of wooden breasts and

softly sculpted cedar hips, there is the flesh and blood and lividity that the real boys have.

Because no matter what anyone says,

I am not the wooden puppet I appear to be.

The wood of my skin and the strings tied to maneuver my arms and the metal joints of my false knees are NOT who I am.

My name may very well be Pinocchio, and I may very well have been born a puppet,

and hopelessly wished for years to be the real boy no one else saw.

But it is not who I am.

I am not the body that labels me or the dysphoria that crushes me.

I am a real boy.

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