the madrigal, volume v
For every trans person it took 20 to find home
by thea hatton
The town where I grew up has been there since -
I don’t actually know.
I think it was Roman once. It used to be a city but
apparently somewhere along the way
a bureaucrat forgot to fill out a form,
so now the cathedral and the castle don’t really
My point stands though, that this place has stayed standing for
centuries, the red bricks are pretty sturdy.
I’ve seen black and white pictures and barely anything is different.
I used to find the solidity
comforting, as if the way the high street dips towards
its centre made it a cradle.
Back when I was a child, and allowed to change,
I could let the history of the place rock me.
In that time, I was a part of it,
now I find myself apart from it.
Ever since I left, I have realised
that the past can only be a comfort in
the way of a sedative. My childhood was spent
in a suspended sleep, a bodyless dream-state.
I was just another set of footsteps on the paving stones,
I could exist as the faint drumbeat of a person.
Now I’m somewhere fresher,
with concrete, smooth like the pink skin
under a peeled scab.
Even the trees here are younger.
I needed this to wake me I think,
to stir me and
tell me I am still allowed to change.
This city that is a city,
taught me how to meld my form, how I could be
a girl one day, then a sparrowhawk.
I shut my eyes as a hare, I wake as a February storm.
I breathe out and I am the rattle of the train
taking me, reluctantly,
back to what was home.
I do not have it in me to stay still any more
I dread stagnating. When I am there now, it feels less like a cradle
and more like a cell.
I am not safe to be let loose.
I am incompatible.
These shapes of mine do not fit the vacuum I left
so they will attempt
to bend me back into boy.
But I refuse now, to be contained.
I am taking my name back from the stones, the bricks,
the river. I would rather go unknown than
let them claim me as something false.
Body of mine, remember you are wanted somewhere.
You are holy somewhere.
Not every place, not everyone
has to stay the same.
Thea Hatton (they/she) is a trans-feminine, nonbinary poet based in Birmingham. She was a member of the University of Birmingham's winning team at Unislam 2022, and is the president for their university's creative writing society, Writer's Bloc. Their work explores trans joy, transformation, magic and mythology, and has previously been published with Honeyfire Literary Magazine and Death's Dormant Daughter. You can follow them at @_Hatton_ on Twitter, or at @thatton.poetry on Instagram.