The Night You Are Diagnosed
after Austin Smith
you name every rifle in your father’s
hunting cabinet another synonym
for escape. This crevasse, a rite
of passage: your hands trembling
in unknowns, exquisitely foreign
& freezing in the dark. Somewhere
in a city drowning in dusk,
your mother tries to shape your sorrow
into something she can blame herself for.
By the side of a road, a dead man
promises his children that tomorrow
he will wake from hibernation.
The precise moment it comes,
you are infinity within creased knuckles,
wishbone from a body that is not yours
or one that was, once, until you traded it
for the memory of incandescence.
Listen: every deer in this forest
is learning the sound of anguish.
Listen: the moon rises so loud the sky
turns black in fear. In some other
version of this night, your body knows
all the places it has not yet been.
Perhaps one day you will relearn
the art of inhaling, but today is not
that day. Instead there is only your
father’s cabinet, somehow swinging
open. Mouth glinting, soulless, teeth
as so many rifles swimming helpless
& hungry in their trapped
Topaz Winters is a poet, essayist, editor, creative director, speaker, scholar, actress, & multidisciplinary artist. Among her internationally award-winning & critically-acclaimed creative credits include working as the author of four books (most recently Portrait of My Body As a Crime I’m Still Committing), writer & star of the short film SUPERNOVA (dir. Ishan Modi), creative director & editor-in-chief of the arts organisation Half Mystic, speaker of the TEDx talk Healing Is a Verb, & creator of the digital art installation Love Lives Bot. Her peer-reviewed research on poetry, identity, & the sociopolitical underpinnings of queerness in Singapore is published in the Journal of Homosexuality. She is the youngest Singaporean ever to be nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the youngest writer ever to be published by Math Paper Press, & the youngest scholar ever to be published in the Journal of Homosexuality. She was born in 1999, resides at topazwinters.com, & studies art at Princeton University. She enjoys chai lattes, classic rock, wildflowers, & the colour of the sky when nothing is dreaming of it.