Conservation Story Part II

An astronaut pulls on her helmet as the countdown starts.

A sculptor smeared in clay stands back to examine his work.

A crowd in grainy black and white marches forward.

There are no limits, you tell me.


But you ask me to identify with a checked box.

You ask me to explain myself with a drop-down list.

Find my role. Climb inside. Don’t move.


I can spend my waking hours figuring out who I am, but that’s not what you want to hear.

You want me to be something you already know.


So when I don’t fit into your existing mold, you ask me to cut myself up into recognizable pieces so I can slip through the door of a system built for someone else.


When I step over the threshold, I leave my severed identities as if they’re only shoes at the door.

I push back the fear that they won’t be there when I return.

That I’ve chosen to accept one piece over another.


Discover or create.

Create or create change.

Cooperative or independent.

Jewish or Chinese.

Feminine or strong.


Two roads diverged in a wood and you asked me to pick one.


Kai Blatt

August 2016


Written as a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar at the University of Washington.