I met the dressmaker between the third and fourth floors of a museum. I was trying to make sense of it allâthe artwork, the architecture, my own inadequacyâwhen he stepped into the lift wearing a white shirt and a pair of jeans, and I thought, this man will show me the impressionists.
âItâs like a labyrinth,â I said, gesturing to the map in his hands.
He pulled a piece of string from his pocket and said, âUse thisâ. When I dropped the end to the ground it came up to my waistâlong enough to explore the lift without losing my way. I tied one end around my wrist and the other around his, and suddenly it was much longer, the length of the whole building. We stepped out together, and the ground stabilized.
I swear to you, they are preparing to sacrifice me at any moment. / I swear to you, they are impassioned with morphing language differently than me / to torture and confuse like the curse of diversity at babel. / I swear to you, mere boys and girls are defying norms of appearance, switching places, multiplying into theys and thems / a threat to my gendered three-in-one god of one body and many parts. / A concept beyond my grasp of spirits and angels and singularity where there is no longer male nor female. / Does no one hear me, in this wickerman theyâve built, burning up? / I know it looks like Iâm just comfortable in my own house with the same rights as always, marriage untouched, family unharmed, lifestyle allowed / but the way sweat drips like blood from my brow / I must be burning. / I see the walls melting down, I hear the devil laughing. / At least I think itâs the devil. / It sounds like children.
What happens when I am boiled down to just one individual? / What happens when what I know to be true is whittled away? / If I am not supreme, then how can the god in my image be?
Kate Doughty Reads an excerpt from "Screening Questionnaire", forthcoming in Wrongdoing's first issue
Have you found the lights of your small bathroom on at night and the mirrored medicine cabinet door askew? Upon further inspection, the tap might be running. When you creep across your studio to turn it off, the basin is full of mossy, overgrown sludge typically found in long-abandoned outdoor fountains. Are those lichens on the vanity? You spend the small hours cleaning pond water from your sink, removing the smell of algae from your bathroom. When you return to bed, all that remains is the sound of your faucet, dripping again, and a sing-song sigh from the reflection in the mirror you couldnât scrub away: oh, my darling, you cannot run from this in a way that matters. Come on in, the water is just fine.