From the Anthology 

Breaking the Silence

Deep In My Bones

by Dana Kiefer

I look at my knuckles

following the contour

of the steering wheel

and see how they look

like the teeth of gears.

something to fit in place

and turn to produce an

answer to my questions.

a skeleton key

for my soul’s room.

When I was a child

I once thought I was

a machine. Some alien

thing, built and put in

this body as a disguise.

Put in this body as a disguise,

for some forgotten purpose.

An infiltrator, a sleeper cell

Waiting for a coded message

to relieve this incongruousness.

This dissonance. Pulling

my pieces out of bed to

the mirror and feeling

my skin and hair and

hair and frame.

Running my hands over a

face that already felt too rough.

It was as if these clumsy parts

were just a shroud, a screen cast

over the glowing core of my self.

I wanted to pull myself apart

just to prove it,

even if it killed me.

let me throw away the ribs

and finally breathe.

If I truly was a machine

I would know

that it wasn’t a mistake.

If I was human – well,

I’d need so many more answers.

Author Bio

Dana Kiefer is a 27 year-old non-binary trans woman and poet who has lived in and around Cleveland her whole life. She studied poetry and English literature locally at Case Western Reserve University. She often thinks about the perplexing nature of identity. Her poems often tackle themes of mental health, the self, and queer life in a Rust Belt city.

Pre-pandemic, Dana could usually be found at The Side Quest trying new drinks, knitting, and performing at Let It Out. After the pandemic, she would like to visit all the best record shops and restaurants on the west side with her loved ones. Dana is extremely thankful for all her friends in the community who have built her confidence and kept her moving forward.