George Hickman "When My Mother Changed the Photos on the Family Room Wall"

We ask each other, my brothers and I, if we could ever love someone with our deadname. I guess we just as well might ask, my brothers and I, if we ever see the imprint of grief on hospital forms or in silver-lettered credit cards or in our mothers hiding boxes of scrapbooks upstairs or in the hems of our cousin's hand-me-down skirts.

Here we are, my brothers and I, huddled in the ballroom of William Way on Spruce, mirrors reflecting our wide hips and bound breasts. We say to ourselves that we could utter that name again into the creases of someone else's neck. We say this to ourselves, but we cannot even bring ourselves to whisper those names to each other. Instead we dance around them, saying "it" or "that name" or "she," yet as our eyes glance behind each other to the mirror-lined walls, we cannot forget that we were once ballet dancers, fashionistas, and color guard queens, and now we are just a little bit gayer for it, I guess.

I guess when our hips swing the ghostly outlines of Anastasias and Marianas and Victorias must inhabit our rhythm, because they can arch our backs, tilt our chins just over our shoulders, remind us to walk with our legs close together and to cross our arms on the 33 bus and keep our fingers wrapped around our keys and our knives, just like our mothers taught us to before they watched us plunge needles into our birth-giving hips and mourned the idea of ever seeing us in our wedding dresses.