Joy Ladin

To Say You Lived

you must remember
exactly, without obfuscation,

your mother bending
to kiss your head,

the taste of the batter
you licked from her hand,

the shape and color
of every button

you pretended to sort
while she guided a navy-blue thread

through a narrow eye,
the only eye

in the needle’s head.

Copyright © Joy Ladin.


Joy LadinJoy Ladin is a teacher, widely published essayist and poet, literary scholar, and nationally known speaker on transgender issues. She is the author of eight books, including Through the Door of Life, a memoir of gender transition that was a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award and winner of a Forward Fives Award. Her books of poetry include Forward Fives award winner Coming to Life, Lambda Literary Award finalist Transmigration, and the recently published Impersonation.

Ladin holds the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Stern College of Yeshiva University. She is a Fulbright Scholar and an American Council of Learned Societies Research Fellow.

Since coming out as transgender in 2008, she is a nationally recognized speaker on transgender issues, featured on National Public Radio, as well as interviews and profiles in numerous publication and engagements inside and outside of academia, including delivering keynote talks at the 21st World Congress of LGBT Jews, and the 2015 Asanbe Diversity Symposium at Austin Peay State University. She has been scholar-in-residence at a number of synagogues and is a member of the Board of Keshet, a national organization devoted to full inclusion of LGBTQ Jews in the Jewish world.

This poem is a Kore Staff pick.