"The Declension of Gender"
The Tiresians had not just two genders
but dozens -- nearly a hundred,
according to some counts.
Instead of putting gender into language,
they put language into gender,
shapeshifting as they went
from one topic to another.
Humans wrote whole books about
which gender went with what topics,
but still didn't understand them.
The only humans who could
speak Tiresian even minimally
were genderfluid folks, and
even they struggled with
that degree of flexibility.
Meanwhile, the Tiresian scholars --
to whom the declension of gender
came as naturally as breathing --
struggled to comprehend
how gender could be sessile.
* * *
Declension is a type of grammatical change that inflects nouns and pronouns to indicate things such as gender or number. When someone says, "My pronouns are ze, zer, zem," that is declension.
Sessile means stationary or nonmoving in biology. Sharks are mobile, while barnacles (as adults) are sessile.