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“Lake Baptiste Ungenders Me” by Cassandra Myers, from Arc’s 2020 Shortlist

“Lake Baptiste Ungenders Me” by Cassandra Myers

 


 

Lake Baptiste Ungenders Me

upon contact / head first / baptismal
the rind of me / peels into ribbons
of foam / and pearls / i re-brown at the water’s
touch / its two-way mudmirror / hands me
its own name / earthliquid / bottomless
a brown body / within / a brown body / within /
the lake / the altar of my father’s / upbringing
green sanko spinner rod adidas cleat gender
lifeguardlegacy diveschool dreamboat jockboy
5am wake up call ritual / hereditary / crash-boat
inheritance / watch me / clear this dock of my torso
norunningstart / with all the other / brown / boys
at jumpingrock / pencil dive into the tubular / veins
of my lakemother / umbilical / my skin / abalone / parallel
to the ice line of the pines / masculine stillness i muscle
myself onto the back of my own back / reaching
towards the helm of all the boys born after me
i join the tow / unborn in their wake / slaloming
drowned tree honorifics / shirtless sunchest eldest
child / again / again / plunging into the holy dark
of brown limbs / our edges the only scenery / in this womb
i am my kin / my kin / earthliquid / bottomless / indiscernible
from the neck down / limbs / torso / pelvis / could be anyone
could be everyone / i love / all at once / upon contact
i sediment / the brown of me / colouring the entire lake /
i am the dye / fogging up the freshwater / natural unclarity /
natural mash / natural churning / of the weeds / in the motor
Loch Ness / body all scales / brown shimmer / perch-pike boy
freshwater mermaid-olution / gill / gasping / water –
breathing / i spit / out every body’s hook / submerge
in me / and there is only more me / everbrown edgeless

 


 

Frances Boyle on “Lake Baptiste Ungenders Me”

This poem is immersive, a baptism by submersion in the titular lake. It draws the reader inexorably in with language and structure. The disjointed lines evoke the rhythm of breathing while swimming. We are immersed along with the speaker, while new life emerges, and identity is merged with yet alters the lake.

 


 

Cassandra Myers (they/she) is a queer, non-binary, crip, mad, South Asian-Italian, from Tkaronto. Cassandra has performed her poetry across North America and received the Best Poet Award at CUPSI. A Masters of Social Work candidate at York University, Cassandra is an arts-educator and crisis intervention counsellor. A Pink Door fellow, her work can be found in Overheard Press and Arc Poetry Magazine.