I come out to my mother – at long last. by Julia Gaskill

once I was a fawn dipped in holy water.
the forest my haven. the trees my family.
the flowers my communion. the mist my
prayer circle. the creek my rosary. the leaves 
whispering a promise of heaven. but only if 
I grew to be the kind of doe the forest wanted. 
all speckled with beguile and tame and meek. 
the kind who freezes when it gets too bright. 
prettiest when mounted on any man’s wall. 
but I never wanted to be a doe. when I could 
be a marsh wren. or a common shrew. 
or a short-tailed weasel. or all of the animals
contained inside my lungs. I have always been
a scream, really. the kind caught behind your
fangs. must be choking on the flowers again.
I have always been an infatuation. the fur on 
my body prickling at the thought of any 
beautiful creature. look, look at all the love 
I have, how I did not know for the longest time 
what to do with it. I have always been a constant. 
yes, I think your daughter grew to be a constant.
a reliable beast. a steadfast gallop. a varmint 
so deliberate and self-assured, she could never 
have known a forest, could never have set hoof 
in one, not in a million years, not even in a prayer.

Julia Gaskill (she/her) is a professional daydreamer hailing from Portland, Oregon. Her work has been published through Trampoline, Nailed Magazine, FreezeRay Poetry, Knight’s Library Magazine, and more, and she’s been featured on YouTube channels such as Button Poetry, SlamFind, and Write About Now. She was included in the 2020 anthology In Absentia, collaborated with the band Impulse Control on the track “Television” off their latest album, and is the creator of the spoken word album Stouthearted Bitch. Her debut poetry collection, weirdo, is forthcoming through Game Over Books Press in October 2022.