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A letter to the girl I used to be.

Dear Emily,

Every time I watch baseball

a voice I no longer recognize whispers

“Ethan, do you remember?

When you were gonna be the first girl in the major leagues?

Seattle Mariners. Rally cap.”

But to be honest, Emily, I don’t.

Dad told me that like it was someone else’s bedtime story.

But I know you had that drive,

didn’t let anyone tell you to wear shorts above your knees,

didn't care if boys thought your hair fell on your shoulders just right.

But with girls, sleepovers meant the space between your shoulder and hers

was a 6-inch fatal territory.

The year you turned eleven was the first time you said out loud

that you didn't want to live anymore.

In therapy, you said you wouldn't make it to 21.

On my 21st birthday, I thought about you, you were right.

At nineteen, you started to fade.

I tried to cross you out, like a line

in my memoir I wished I could erase completely.

And maybe misunderstanding the definition of death,

but even though parts of you still exist you are not here,

most of my friends have never heard your name until now.

I've been trying to write this letter for six months.

I still can't decide if it should be an apology or not,

but now you will never hear “Emily Smith” announced at a college graduation,

get married, give birth.

When the prescribed testosterone started taking effect

my body stopped producing the potential for new life every month.

I thought about your children

how I wanted them too.

I let a doctor remove your breasts so that

I could stand up straighter.

Now even if I somehow had those children,

I wouldn't be able to nourish them.

My body is obsolete,

scarred cosmetic, but never C-section.

I was four days late,

they will never be grandparents

I was one week late,

they will never hold their lover’s sleeping figure.

I was eleven days late,

they will never breathe in a sunset and sunrise in the same night.

I was two weeks late,

they will never learn to jump rope.

I was three weeks late,

they will never shout "Watch Mommy! Watch me on the slide!"

I was two months late,

a piece of us will never

wrap their arms around our leg for comfort,

or just to keep them from falling down.

And I am, sorry,

That this process is so slow, and all you can do is wonder

if you ever had a place.

You did.

You still do.

Don’t forget that.



p.s. I never hated you.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

Profound words by Ethan Smith and filmed by the fine folks at Button Poetry.

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