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EPIGRAMS FOR A LADY
If you hate it when your son is preternaturally boy, freight him with your trunk’s warp.
A woman could form a bastion with a man, but for it to persist, both parties must wield Kalashnikovs and permission from Uber-Mom.
The idiot, the bad apple: the same thing as prototypical feminine.
The best enemy against antagonism is more howl and less whisper.
Frizz and anxiety are not kin but married by the friction they arouse in us.
She who does not know how to put her business on the streets ought not to enter the art biz.
One is often punished for her lavish disregard of easy permissions.
The breadth of a woman’s sexuality reaches into the accidental pinnacle of our collective wit.
A woman’s egg is the reason she does not easily give herself to death/sex drive.
Self-loathing as apparatus: 100 years of hindrance.
What it done out of fear smells like devotion and patriarchy.
Frequently, the slattern is not the equal of her crime. She slanders herself needlessly, especially if/when/because no one is watching. Be patient. For once, the supplicant masses await your gap.
An agitator holds her sign up asking do you feel equal, so you and your sisters deride her
because she’s so public about injustice, so second-wave. Your sisters gather around
her with scorn and sully her earnest nature. It’s thanks but no thanks. I can vote,
walk into the pharmacy for my Plan B, and wear a chain wallet. One sister throws an apple
into the melee and the unfazed agitator bites it. Her straight block-teeth break
the fruit apart which shocks your sisters, but when they’ve abandoned their mockery
for the lure of a choice bazaar: earrings, Ugg boots, removable tramp stamps,
a Sex and the City marathon, you’re hot for the agitator. The crowd clears and you kiss
her sweaty neck and use her agitating sign as a bed. You scrawl her agitating words
onto your belly and stand naked against her muscle memory. Not just the cause,
the impulse, the result, but the buzz of lack. You’d like to consume it right
out of her, that humming electric dissatisfaction. Then you’d like to put it out
of your body in the form of a Louise Bourgeois sculpture, milky, blobbing,
love the star-fuckery of doing it with her and to her, then the sticky
pulling apart, the eternal production of polyurethane eggs wrapped in yarn.
Spasms, deliriums: madness is such a female world, but that’s just my take.
Failing often and long at it, I do claim to know girls are there for blame.
You too can be matter, purplish and pale: the universe’s chasm.
I noticed you when you got lustier by calling down a blood spell.
Cleanliness is only a necessity in hospitals, is what I teach my daughter.
She will be filthy.
I am plain. I was plain. I will be plain. I am not, though.
My bad habits are secrets, the mention of secrets, going to the last chapter first.
I do nothing with my urges because they are manufactured urges.
I split open like a melon.
I bled and shat. My back was
semi-colon. I bled and shat.
My sister-midwives rubbed me,
coaxed me. My husband held me up.
I bled and shat. I pushed so much,
I was inside out. From closed bud
to gaping, dying rose, petal by petal.
Layers of pearl built around a granule
of waste, the diamond ring clanging
in the pipes, the plunge of meconium
and blood, I shat and bled.
Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of a memoir and four poetry collections— including Milk and Filth, finalist for the 2013 NBCC award in poetry. A CantoMundo Fellow, she now teaches in the creative writing programs at New Mexico State University, while serving as the editor-in-chief of the literary journal Puerto del Sol and the publisher of Noemi Press.