Untitled (Reflections on the Body)
by Evelynn Lizard
Evelynn Lizard (she/fae) is a Leeds-based writer, poet, musician and student. Her work is informed by a lifelong commitment to literature, music, and queerness, Eve performs poetry at events around Leeds, and self-publishes through her Substack and Instagram accounts.
Memory (stone does not forget)
It was a free period, and I was an ornament decorating the common room, a carved figure in a red chair amongst a patchwork of other bodies. We were supposed to call them study periods, but no one obliged this request. I was studying the room.
In a moment something seemed to crack in my mind, one break in my statuesque armour. Why was it that everyone but me could just continue? Around me they floated their heavy, corpse-stone bodies, as if they were nothing. I studied solid selves that shaped liquid movements.
I had been created all my life. Forged from birth, hammered, shaped down flat. A template, a recipe to create the perfect inanimate construct. I felt the sense of being shaped, being crafted, but never knew what by. I couldn’t understand who had made these plans, or why they felt so divorced from my own experience.
As I passed days and days, memories would be carved into me. To have everything made for me, to be my own silver platter. Gifts from creation. I rejected all these gifts. I wanted only to know, to find the truth behind the façade. I wanted to be known.
So I stopped being a statue.
Mirrors (face to face)
A mirror is not supposed to tell lies. It may reflect, show, tell. But it may not lie.
I would often wonder why it was that I didn’t like myself. I’d ask this question to the glass, and in answer it would offer me a confused expression. Who was behind it? Each time, a coin flip. I would see a person, or I would see an object. I could not sway the outcome.
I still make this same coin flip, as I have done since childhood. Every image is governed by the tyranny of angles. They congregate, they conspire, and they decide if I will like myself. I try to contest the judgement. I am the same image through different lenses, identifying which one looks like portrait photography, and through which one I become only a landscape. Once a person, or once an object.
An image is only a signifier. It is not the real thing. Sometimes when I am existing while out, or loved, or seen, I can remember this. Here, among these forces, I feel not like my image, but like myself. I can pat my pockets and realise I am without coin. I cannot make the toss, nor place a bet on heads or tails. Finally, I am face to face.
“Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” - 1 Corinthians 13:12
Misery (and other business)
“You must suffer so much.”
was what the girl in sixth form told me, and it was the modality of it that shocked me. I am obliged to suffer. The transsexual suffers, for her art and for her life. Often these are the same, if I am to believe Wilde.
It’s true that misery can be an aesthetic. Else it’s a tricky business, if I am to believe Williams (let’s take it from the top!). Will I ever have a body like an hourglass? It’s a question that’s supposed to horrify me. Sand still falls through it, anyway. I don’t know who taught me that I was on a timer from birth, but it’s a lesson I’m hoping to forget.
The truth is, I refuse. I can look at this thing right here, and stick two middle fingers up to the world, and say that this really is a woman’s body. And in the indignation and the fury, I can believe it for as long as I need to. I have suffered, but I am not a sufferer. I am someone who lives.
So I’ll file away the misery fetishism with the “you’re so brave”, where it belongs.
Marked (a day of visibility)
A label is a way of classifying an object. Like a mirror it does not lie. It is objective.
It is strange, to need these labels the way I do. I have given myself over to the status of being marked. A label is a way of classifying an object.
There are those who refuse to mark themselves. There are those who would walk freely, love freely, who devote their bodies to the pursuit of subjectivity. Stubborn, they will not be labelled.
My labels do not prescribe. They describe. I say that I am a woman who loves women, and this is a simplification. It is a simplification, but it allows me to be visible. To feel visible. It is the first mirror in which I ever truly saw myself.
Not everyone has the freedom to describe themselves. I feel a malleability in woman, as though it can take on whatever qualities I want it to. It is responsive, agile clay in my hands. For me, this is what a label means.
Monuments (a new structural integrity)
Every living trans woman is a monument. It is, for some reason, a miracle that I am alive. If I am a statue now, it is sculpted from a weathered, blue-oxidised copper. I am worn from the love of my friends, and their gentle hands. I am worn as a well-loved pair of shoes might be.
This text is a monument too, and I hope it will wear, become obsolete. I hope it will show signs of age as the years pass it by. I will love to age.
Although I have only lived a year or so, I can feel my statue shell cracking in places. This morning at the GP the nurse took blood from a stone. To see this blood is to know that I am living. I bleed red, red blood onto the skin that sculpts me, and I know that soon, drunk on hormones and defiling my own brand new temple-body, it will be my turn to sculpt.