Dreamed As Medicine: Meditations on Gender and Spirit

by Alexis Penney

I think that I am non­binary. I’m not sure exactly what this could mean. If gender is the way one is read and received, I don’t know who I could be if I only had to read and receive myself. I think that I might be non­binary, because I only feel fully at ease around the queer, trans and gender non-conforming. When I’m being read and received by the mostly cis, I feel ill at ease, to say the least.

The Spring

This place is mapped on the inside of her skin. The archway, the hole that tumbles down, driven into the earth as if some great creature had dug and dug—the stone sides like the walls of a mausoleum. 30 metres down the tunnel cuts to the side and there is a second archway lifting towards the light. Cold kills through disbelief. A person will think themselves warm and start taking off their clothes or lie down to sleep, believing they are safe.

My Favourite Utopia

After yet another week of revelations reaffirming the exhausting injustices of life under patriarchy, I sank into another bath. I was listening to My Favorite Murder, waiting for Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark’s comforting tones to transport me from the grotesque world of men using their positions of power to abuse countless women (and the ensuing chorus of victim-blaming) to the relative calm of American true crime stories.

The Sex Column #2: Consent

I feel compelled to focus on recent events; namely, the torrent of sexual assault allegations, and the resultant ‘Me Too’ campaign. I didn’t say ‘me too’, and I distanced myself from the digital furore for the sake of my own mental health. I couldn’t go on twitter or Facebook without being exposed to things that I found triggering. Women’s voices were being amplified—an indisputably good thing—so why was my internal dialogue conflicted?

First Refrain from Doing Harm

I once thought boredom to be beautiful. Not that I experienced anything beauteous when bored, I just assumed the sheer mass of non-experience was, in itself, an experience. It took place in such loaded, symbolic surroundings that I considered it beautiful. 

Nothing Sacred

Talk was vain and Jac took little pleasure in it. The tanned man driving the taxi from the airport out into the flat expanse of country had attempted it from behind his handlebar moustache. She had taken ever longer pauses between responses until, finally, he ceased.

The Sex Column #1: Disgust

I won’t be replying to a series of individual questions in this column, rather writing about themes that I see recurring—the most common being straight men asking how to 'fuck good'. And I'm never going to deal with that. It has been dealt with. Please leave me alone.

Godspeed

We buy the dog, the puppy, whose name in this story is Maggie, though really it is Sylvie. We might have considered calling the dog (as opposed to the fiction) Maggie, but some friends called their baby Maggie, removing it from our list of possibilities.

Kozłowski and Louka

They met without ‘preconceived ideas’ about their world. They meant the world they would make for one another. When apart, they were often ‘in pain’. This was their truest ‘commonality’. They used such words. The source of pain mattered little.

The List

He stands in front of the mirror, both hands clutching the side of the sink, nose grazing the toothpaste-splattered mirror. He ignores the razors and multiple bottles of aftershave crammed on the ledge. He ignores the soggy mat beneath his feet. He looks deep into his dark brown eyes and reaffirms his right to get the things he wants in life.