Like eggs with brief craters, starburst damage
masked, often, with plastic packaging, faults
caused by mishandling, manipulated nature
graded; any given woman. Oh, to be rogue,
to know, to feel deep in the marrow’s soil
that cracks do not equal trash, that fractures exposed
show movement, show shift, show base plates
open to change, show mountain building nature,
show strength, show growth. Oh, women, go rogue!
Those who call us damaged goods, who call us soiled,
we name you. Villain! Charlatan! Scoundrel! Expose
you Miscreant, marking your property.
The damage you cause is your fault, not your nature.
Brute! There is dirt on your face, blood on your exposed hands.
Boys will be boys. It’s in their nature
to play rough. It’s not that they’re bad,
really. They can’t help but get covered in mud.
Snips and snails, after all. Schoolyards and bare
knuckles. Rare steak slapped over the ubiquitous
shiner [shift] black eye [shift] hematoma […]
You’re making me the villain.
It was you who left the […] dirty,
you who wore that […] that left you half-exposed.
You know I’d never hurt you
if you didn’t make me so […]. It’s your fault.
You […] […] […], so naturally
it is in the nature of my hands to fist, devilish.
Tell, and see how fast they’ll lay the blame. On you.
Evil woman. Witch. Whore. Crone. Earth-stained
Mother. Hands buried deep in warm dirt unearth
seeds, stones, fragments. We evaluate the damage.
Make sense out of thrown bones, creased palms, flight lines
of birds. We have been condemned with conformation.
Eyes run down our bodies like water. A charlatan’s rough
assessment. Their eyes, their hands reveal
worth. Are you fuckable? Do you possess
the correct dimensions for a wife? To cleave
to, away from? Are you naturally
pretty? A double-bagger? The result of a rough
night? Beer-goggled body in which to bury?
In which to haul ashes? Can you be brought out in public?
[shift] Spit out this bit. Rebel.
Gabrielle Brant Freeman‘s poetry has been published in many journals, most recently in Barrelhouse, Cider Press Review, Grist, One, Rappahannock Review, storySouth, and Waxwing. She was nominated twice for the Best of the Net, and she was a 2014 finalist. Gabrielle won the 2015 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition. Press 53 published her first book, When She Was Bad, in 2016. Gabrielle earned her MFA through Converse College.
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