Etymology of butch


I. Butch: Possible abbreviation of the word “butcher”

A. I am the granddaughter of a butcher. A knife plotting meat is audible ancestry

B. Asians are known to eat every part of the animal. Balls and all. Tongue

1. her wet deity. My salted chin. Meat-monger, I am bowl

2. of howl. Every bride is a basket

C. we fill with fresh eggs. My grandfather once butchered a chicken that laid no eggs

1. but still ate from his palm. He called this theft. He said every animal must atone

2. for its hunger

3. in usefulness. The year I said no

4. children, I fled the house. When I say house I mean

5. body. Tower of my wife’s wrist, bone-keyed locks. Language is the fugitive

D. of meaning: my name is the knife my voice unsheathes. Draws on its own throat.

1. In bed, we wear a fur of fathers. The stars like knocked-out teeth

2. I lock braces with the first girl I kiss. The sparks smell like

3. the soap of a sun.

E. My grandfather eats even the bones of things. White is the color

1. emptied of bodies. A scar roves my skin like a pink search party.

2. We waste not. No part of my body uneaten, unused

3. to butchery. With a handsaw I hack my hair a holy length

4. blunt as a crown. Asian-bangs. The bowl haircut

5. my first boyhood. My blade identity. Bungled

F. beauty: beast I aimed to skin

1. but carved bone-torches of instead. Night

2. I exaggerate like a hole, master my meat

3. a moon’s mistressing.

II. Butch: nickname for a boy, possibly derived from the name George “Butch” Cassidy

A. Crimes:

1. Robbery (I ferment her hands in me. Now they’re foam & wrists of water

2. Hijacking (I wear my brother’s hand-me-downs. My mother says when we’re not so poor she’ll dress me like her girl. My first dress is patterned with fishes & hooks. I grow out of it in less than a year. My breasts absolve themselves of fabric. My first English teacher invites me to sit on his lap

3. Banditry (we play family. I ask you to call me father. I make you serve me dinner first. Dirtdumplings & slugs for dessert. Take my name. Be the son in my lineage of losses. Be the law to my longing. The lap to my ass. The sound to my

B. slurs / nicknames:

1. Dyke. I sizzle the river with my spit. I wade without legs. I keep my hair long as a fishline. I fill my lungs with birdlife. Feathers are femme. My wings rest in her chest

2. Lesbo. the island of Lesbos is not an island but a boat. The oars are enormous arms. The boat itself is a belly. It swallows its own sail. It sells wind to women who return as pickled swans. Some heroes, before leaving home, carry their mother’s sweat in a vial around their necks. They sniff the vials to keep from straying. Daughterhood is something like dogness

3. in that we eat what is fed. We sniff our enemies’ asses. We run after cars belonging to fathers. We fetch sticks to be beaten with

4. White girls call me fish breath. The doubleness of this: my mother at the Chinese grocery rips the gills off fish. Prepares them for the afterlife in our bodies. I’m never allowed

5. to eat out. My mother says we’ve got leftovers at home. The gut parts golding our sink. The inedible spine. We share the stink. My mother says swallowing fish bone will grow a girl in me. Puncture me openings. Like a bead’s twinned mouth I necklace a lineage through. With a hot sword, she cauterized the hole I widened then widowed. First of many betrayals: my refusal to resemble, to reassemble rain into a cohesive water, daughter. To disown all salt in a series of bleedings. My masculinity a factory. An assembly line of mothers unmaking me. Wageless warfare. What god criminalizes creation? Mine

divine. Mine of my own hands. Mine of a prayer arrowheaded in silence, my body a steed I ride to sabotage

C. gods: