OFFICIAL FORM by Naima Yael Tokunow

Plan to marry

 

Go to the county records office

 

Wait in line until the security guard beckons you

 

Raise your right hand and swear to an apathetic clerk

 

Raise your right hand and turn eyes at your partner

 

Use white out to correct

 

Use white out to correct incorrect form data

 

Learn that you cannot keep your maiden name and add a new one

 

Mourn that familiar designation’s good sound

 

Repeat your new name to yourself

 

Your partner’s father has beautiful hands

 

Knuckles like balloons, fingers crowed

 

Your partner will leave his “New Surname” section blank

 

Look at him and sadden a bit that he is a man

 

Love the things that man him but still

 

How will they know your queerness now

 

Femme that you are

 

How hard it was to be seen before this

 

Even as you made hands on a lover’s body

 

at the dyke night dance party

 

You love him and also

 

say often: I would kill every man

 

Including you, if I had the power

 

Sadden that this is not yet a love poem

 

Pay one hundred and some odd dollars to the clerk

 

Forget if you ordered a copy of your certificate

 

Later, order another one so that you can become

 

Yourself on your goddamn social security card

 

How easy it is to be old and white and have a cane

 

Think that to yourself in the social security office

 

How different it is from the benefits office

 

No babies

 

So many men with hands like your father-in-law

 

You’re married now

 

Did you not mention that?

 

You got married to your partner, wore a red dress

 

You felt like a god, drunk on nothing

 

At some point you noticed you had no shoes on

 

The palms of your feet were sticky with some little flower

 

The sap of its nectar

 

And isn’t that love

 

And isn’t that murder

 

The flowers and their dead gummed lips

 

They were not meant for the palms of your feet

 

But you are a god called by a new prayer

 

This is your marriage

 

This is your name

 

God that you have become

 

Flower-footed that you have become

 

Watching the death of that different you

 

Her, with shoes on and some other name

 

 

NAIMA YAEL TOKUNOW (neé Woods) is an educator, writer and editor, currently living in the New Mexico. Her work (and life) focus around interrogating black femme identity & privilege, social justice and black futurity. She is the author of the chapbook, MAKE WITNESS, published in 2016 by Zoo Cake Press. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a TENT Residency Fellow & has attended The Home School workshop. She proudly edits the Black Voice Series for Puerto del Sol. New work is published or forthcoming from Bayou, Glittermob, Nat. Brut, jubilat, Diagram and elsewhere. She is blessed to be black and alive.

 

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