Beyond Survival, Week 3: Yes, I Took His Knowledge With His Power

But when I put on His knowledge, I found it didn’t fit my form, because His knowledge said: there is pleasure in subjugating another to your own whims and your own desire, and there is pleasure in indifference, in watching others fall.

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I have never wanted that pleasure, that power to bend another. And now, when I’m told from various directions and in myriad ways that I should somehow work harder to make myself more palatable, so that I can make other people comfortable, so that I can make sure to help people acquiesce to my own desire, I can’t. I just fucking can’t. Charm looks too much like the face of my enemy.

When I was very young, my two favorite poems were, Edgar Allen Poe’s Alone, and Emily Dickenson’s I had a Guinea Golden. To my mind, those two poems in sequence were my first map, and I still have them memorized:

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.


I had a guinea golden—
I lost it in the sand—
And tho' the sum was simple
And pounds were in the land—
Still, had it such a value
Unto my frugal eye—
That when I could not find it—
I sat me down to sigh.

I had a crimson Robin—
Who sang full many a day
But when the woods were painted,
He, too, did fly away—
Time brought me other Robins—
Their ballads were the same—
Still, for my missing Troubador
I kept the "house at hame."

I had a star in heaven—
One "Pleiad" was its name—
And when I was not heeding,
It wandered from the same.
And tho' the skies are crowded—
And all the night ashine—
I do not care about it—
Since none of them are mine.

My story has a moral—
I have a missing friend—
"Pleiad" its name, and Robin,
And guinea in the sand.
And when this mournful ditty
Accompanied with tear—
Shall meet the eye of traitor
In country far from here—
Grant that repentance solemn
May seize upon his mind—
And he no consolation
Beneath the sun may find.

To my childhood mind, He was the demon in my view, and His was the eye of the traitor who stole my star. I used to think I was very, very alone when I turned to face the demon. And I used to think that stars could be stolen from my sky.

I also used to think what he'd done had something to do with my being a girl and his being a man. And then so many grown boys and mothers of boys came to whisper to me, and tell it had happened to them. And then so many grown boys and grown girls came to whisper to me that it had happened to them, but their He had been a woman. And then I realized that, though we have a system that puts more power in the hands of more men, individual abuse of power is genderless.

And too, I used to think that my judgment had been damaged, because I was a Victim, and surely His perversion had crushed the lens through which I viewed the world. Therapy assumed this. Our culture still presumes this. But then I realized that, no, because of what I know from human ugliness, I am more careful and more particular with where I place my true trusts. And the people I let in and the people to whom I give myself have mostly been so good. And when I’ve encountered people who wield their power wrongly, I have always walked away. Over and again, I’ve put my self-sovereingty and my peace (and that of my children) above some wrongheaded love.

I used to think my sexuality had been skewed, because my culture told me my queerness and gender oddness and my kinks were a perversion, and one perversion must have of course followed some other perversion. I know now that I have fought hard to put my sexuality in its right places, and I know that along the way I’ve had a lot of falsehoods to sort, but I am solid in my desires and my willingness to seek those desires with clarity and care.

And tonight, I know that I let his knowledge fall dripping from my hair. I let the demon in my view crumple into itself until it became one small, dead, repentant man,  and I looked around and realized I had never been alone, my Pleiad was never gone from my sky after all. My golden guinea still sifts through its sand. My robin still sings, bright crimson.