I don’t remember much from the math classes I took when I was a kid
Except for the units on geometry
In kindergarten we would take stencils and pencils
And make things called ‘shapes’
And we didn’t know it back then but we were learning how the world works:
Why Columbus didn’t sail off the edge of the ocean,
How God made us in his own shape and what that meant for those of us who looked a little bit different

After kindergarten things got more complicated.
Shapes became three dimensional,

Megan Patterson grew spheres on her chest,
Kate Williams squished two triangles together on a note she wrote to Dillon Briers and called it love
Thomas O’Quinn drew a cone on the bathroom wall (insisted it was a UFO) and had to go to after school detention and write lines like,
“I will not use my hormones in vain”

From the Play-doh of puberty,
We emerged as shapes
We became tessellations
Of curves
And sins
And shifting over plots
And charts
We transformed,
To the rhythm of rules,
If you are not beautiful, erase and start over again.
They said.

So Laura Ann Zdarski threw up during recess in the bathroom,
When they said she looked like a boy
She learned the shape of a tear,
The trauma of a shooting star.

So
Chase Sykes pinned each arm to a blade of his ceiling fan
hanged himself like Jesus
When they called him queer.
He learned the shape of a cross,
The redemption of a sin.

The rules of geometry they made no accommodations for difference,

I did not understand how wanting to squish my cone
With his
Wasn’t beautiful
Like Kate Williams’s heart,

So
I learned the shape of a woman
The importance of congruence
When they asked me which girl in our school I wanted to fuck the most

I learned the shape of a man
The importance of pretending
When my girlfriend asked me why I was afraid of exploring her body

There are rules that we had to learn,
Just to survive

1.
Make sure your heart beats in pencil, not pen
The permanent conviction of a first grader, “I won’t mess up.”
Hold your hand steady,
falling in love
is confusing
like
two points being connected with a line
and no longer being able to see themselves as different
feels like
abstract art
exploring new lines and planes
and
getting lost in the wrong dimension
you will make mistakes.
and they will hurt you,
because you are lonely enough to believe that you are worthy of pain

2.
Curved shapes cannot fit with straight edges,
No matter how hard you push them,

Remember when he told you he wanted to be connected forever

Remember when a few years later he called you a faggot,
And chose to forget those nights under rectangle
Sheets, when you graphed your body onto his

3.

Not all shapes were created equal.
Remember the first time you fell in love with a boy
And remember when he processed you and called you a friend,
Even though you thought the lines of his neck, 
the parabola of his ass
Were beautiful
Remember how he called her lover,

And you finally understood what it meant to be
The furthest point of a triangle,
Jealous,
Watching, from a distance
And you are connected,
Just not as close,
As her
And you have a place in this algorithm
Just not equal
As her


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