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No footnotes

By Kirin Gupta, Crimson Staff Writer

No footnotes

(A reflection on the way we compartmentalize our identities to make the presentation of a whole, normalized, and complete Self visible to others. How do we place ourselves in the realm of the recognizable?)

There is woman seething inside me

And she needs to justify herself

With every second breath

How can you

Expect a full sentence

When you want so many footnotes

For why things don’t fit into place

My body is a legal document

Not the complex kind

Not the kind you need to go to school to learn to read

Because you seem to already know

My body is, for you, illiterate and so legible

Surveilled and pieced apart

Labeled for easy pickings

Cutlets: digestible, convenient

There is the Feminine in me

Taught and still becoming incomplete, filling jagged edges with collages of unfinished

and running out of glue

Trying to un-teach her-self

there is the “girl”

who can’t become a woman

and is tearing her hair upwards out of scalp

trying to grow into her definition

her footnote reads: not curvy enough,

not exotic [to][IN?] the hips,

touch of sharpness to the tongue,

slightly uneven breasts

belly curve is demented

but her vulva is in place—reassuring but not quite enough,

thereby, girl


There is something brown in me

And it smells like shit



because six-year-olds don’t lie and they can’t be taught that kind of cruelty

Something immigrant and dark

Something dusting hair over my forearms darker than any of my classmates, bloating my lips and my eyes until I look like a mosquito

soon-to-be-ladies skirt around me, shading their eyes in their light hair, glancing down into their training bras, wondering why I don’t wear one, looking cautious, as though I might bite

and for sure have malaria

her footnote reads: I can be white too I go to school in America I say the pledge louder and harder than anyone I even say that God part because I, I, I, believe in the US and don’t look at my skin Look directly In my eyes Because they are earnest and wet when you tell me I am Terrifying or Wrong—footnote 2b. not out loud but look at all those pictures of the bad guys why do they all look like my dad And is this why he shaves so close to his face so obsessively like his life depends on it Twice a Day Because he can’t look like one of them you already look at him funny on this side of the boardroom why can’t you love his cheeks deep brown under the stubble like I do—look into my eyes and tell me that I don’t belong what is Citizen and why can’t Immigrant be too no wait I take it back because I didn’t migrate it wasn’t me don’t blame me Don’t blame my parents they just wanted More and they didn’t get it isn’t that Enough

No—I am Brown—the Disruptive

There is Sexual in me

there is longing to taste Woman and touch her reach her as subject as object

there is longing to hold Man around his neck and fuck him claim him as subject as object

there is yearning there is wetness

there are the heady heavy hormones and the scent of sex in my sheets

there is Too Much because this is not Lady or Allowed

her footnote reads: dominates only as much as is wanted, mostly

foreign; expected to have more unconstrained expression of sexuality

dark; could have predicted a whore

footnote 3b. yet immigrant; could have predicted a prude or dry emptiness

dominated only enough to be still Lady

doesn’t drip on the newspaper in an administered test as they made her watch lesbian porn

not the bisexuality and heavens godforsaken not a lesbian

relationships with women likely brief  enough to be negligible

desire may be fueled by sexual trauma

strangeness in taste probably linked to the abuse

chalk it up and leave it alone

no cures for that

just a footnote

There is Shame in me

All fathoms deepened and entrenched by her

She. wearing my Intestines on her arms

and my Hair wrapped as gloves around her feet

the Knots caught up between her toes like in the ridges of the drain

bitten barren cuticles and the edges of sharp nails eat me from the inside, press out through carrion flesh

caressing my cavities and fissures like the secret soul

of Retch

her footnote reads: so sorry so sorry so sorry I was born like this I became like this I was made into this blame him blame her blame elsewise No so sorry I know No It’s me Yes so sorry so sorry slurring together and humiliated footnote reads, head to feet, down to feet, I am feet, I am beneath, I am the footnote on every moment with my Betters I am below see me here so sorry so sorry to Intrude

There is something on the Border

that won’t be taught Hindi; god forbid for that I can’t speak English well enough

that won’t be wearing men’s clothes; but won’t buy a long dress

that speaks in the Academy; and screams at the face of a closed door

that puts on lipstick carefully; and hacks all her hair off in one stroke

that doesn’t know, but talks anyway; and tomorrow contradicts herself

that doesn’t talk when maybe she does know; and tomorrow scorns silence

that proclaims American; that proclaims Immigrant;

who asks why not both as one, but offers two selves to choose from

her footnote reads: origin unknown. Created. unreadable. Ambiguity in the space of erasure and non disclosure.

How much is there

How many more footnotes

that run longer than the text

Because We Have not Created a World


Without the footnotes

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