Mama Never Told Me There’d Be Days Like These Because She Met My Father in Kindergarten and Carried Only His Name in Her Notebook All the Years Since [Exerpt], Sally J. Johnson
“I go to my first prom as a sophomore by attending with J, a senior, a friend. He’s sneaking me and my boyfriend in. I don’t remember anything about that dance now except that J was the kind of friend who meant honestly that I could climb through his bedroom window if ever my house turned into a thunderstorm.”
Shame, Abridged [Ruth Awad]
Walk a circle of salt
around the bed. A handful
of leaves or feathers.
This is how we hide
every moment we lived in the ground.
When shame becomes your phantom hand that digs its nails into its fist.
When you move it like a muscle just to feel your skin tighten.
I was thirteen. I stood calf-high in meadow grass. Two high school boys,
counting each pixel of flesh as I peeled the fabric from my body.
Become a worse animal. Let your quills pin their eager hands to the dirt.
Here, my armor: a plate of bone beneath my breasts
and your weight on top of it. Your wife and kid waited at home.
But I could feel them, too.
The ceiling fan, turning and turning over,
always above you.
I am the yarrow at your heel, leave your starved with me.
Your chest rising the way a bow draws an arrow.
I want to teach this song
to the children we won’t make.
A lover said, You can’t make me fall in love with you
and just leave. It was like in the movies. What power
tastes like: knowing I could have him, even then.
How that one-room apartment with no AC
in the dead of summer made his skin wet,
made me want to see just how cold I could be.
I’m trying out what it means to be a woman
and take out the world with one bite.
Out of the garden and into the bog.
I am awake as any animal
under the star-wheeled night.
My skin a red slip
I could slick from my back
and start over
if I don’t get in my own way.
Behind the screen, vines cursive the names of ghosts,
the faucet beads into the basin.
Be the space between each drip.
In the kitchen his calloused hand pins my thigh.
I don’t want to be held that way,
but the body is already bones and dirt.
You can bury it anywhere.
"I chose the impossible. I chose… Rapture. A city where the artist would not fear the censor. Where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality. Where the great would not be constrained by the small. And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city as we