c. 1300, "stumps of grain stalks left in the ground after reaping," from Old
French estuble "stubble" (Modern French éteule), from Vulgar Latin stupla,
reduced form of Latin stipula "stalk, straw" stipule).
The line “Every hair on my body is a man” is originally from Jamie Mortara.
Every hair on my body is a man
the choice is whether to raise them
or raze them. When the blade gathers
the men like dust in a clean home, I revel
in how I feel a cool river when my legs brush
up against each other, dousing the small flint-born fires
when the forest grows dry. In 6th grade, my neighbor lectured
we would not kill the weeds unless we got to the root,
that simply cutting the tops would let the creeping charlie
grow back heartier and with a vendetta. I’m unsure
I can be unearthed from this sick dirt. I still insist
on dragging the small scythe across my skin. Which is crueler
that they grow or that I forbid them? I can tolerate them as boys:
after a single day of barrenness and quiet, they erupt, yes,
but they learn to soften under a gentle touch. When they grow tall
I realize I no longer recognize them.
They talk back to their mother.
They wish to be as tall as their father.
If every hair on my body is a man,
then I am a ruthless parent who eats
their young in the name of survival. Learn
how I say, not how I do. But the men don’t
fear me. They know this morning I shaved my legs
and ran out of both time and hot water
to rid myself
of anyone else.
Levi Todd is a queer poet and lifelong Chicagoan. They serve as Poetry Editor for Tinderbox Poetry Journal and as a relationship health educator with youth. Levi’s work is published in Pinwheel, Cotton Xenomorph, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. You can read more of their work at www.levitodd.com or say hi on Twitter @levicitodd.