Candy Bead Necklace


A human is not separate from its humanity
nor humanity from a human.
Not even in a submarine or in a space capsule or at a church rummage sale, unless you die there.
Then humanity has lost a definition,
and the non-human an antonym.
I used to buy candy necklaces at a sweets shop by my grade school,
loose and handled by how many fingers. I would nibble–did I wear them first?
I was a boy who sometimes pretended I was a girl but suspected that was bad.
Wears and eats candy is one definition of human.
Not the one we’d give to aliens but maybe the one we should.
It says a lot.
The aliens, would they be a new antonym or synonym?
Or maybe a translation as a Mississippi midwife or Algerian taxidermist translates me.
I don’t buy candy necklaces anymore or put glass eyes into dead cats
or pretend I’m female
or pretend I’m male
or pretend I’m not an Estonian bank manager who throws pots.
I don’t let my pronouns date,
but I’ve taught my pronouns about birth control.
My pronouns were uncomfortable with the lesson and wanted milkshakes and macaroni-and-cheese
and to be carefree children again, so I’m their mother.
Don’t eat those candy necklaces, I tell them,
you don’t know what’s on them.
And what if aliens drop by?

–Basil Cartryte

Image info: Candy-bead necklace by Evan-Amos, from Wikimedia Commons.