I am not beautiful

by Austin Hopkins, MS1

This is the part where you gasp, take my hand, and tell me that it’s not true.

I have one request—don’t ask me to recant what I don’t believe.

What does the word even mean, beautiful,

You told me that everything about me is perfect

You told me that what I am studying to be is heroic

You told me that who I am is perfect

You told me I’m warm, soft-hearted, a kind soul

 

But I don’t like the words that you’ve covered me with,

A suffocating blanket of good will,

I am real, I am more than the idea the words aim to be

 

My head is sore, crammed full of temperamental emotions

My soul is wary, having bared it all and had the chapel burned down

My hands are cold, the knuckles a dry blue, my lips chapped

My heart beats inconsistently: too heavy, too fast, too much

My beard has holes from scarring that can’t ever be filled

My eyes are green, not like emeralds but like the moss growing on the rotting tree trunk

I agree, they’re striking, but best on a cloudy day

 

Yes, you did see a tremor, I laugh and say I won’t be marching into surgery

The pitch is striking, it’s questionable that I’ve actually completed puberty

So I look downwards, past the battlefield of fingernails bitten down to the quick

Sometimes painted black as a public I dare you to fuck with me

I hear myself breath out (the old, faithful wheeze) and look down—

The chicken legs. My mother tells me I’m too skinny, are you sure you’re eating?

 

But I smile, I can and I will the smile, it’s honest, I promise

The smile that’s less outside and more in—

When I walk down the hallway, draped in the preliminary status symbol

(the white coats are coming, the white coats are coming)

The accompanying popular fantasy: I am more than human, a burgeoning demigod—

It says that one day I can heal, I can turn back mortality temporarily

Denouncing my pride would be dishonest, I am proud

I’m proud of my precision and compassion and imperfection

But don’t tell me that I’m beautiful, that’s not really it, it’s not true to who I am.