Kelsey Johnson "The Womanhood Hits You Like a Train"

The Womanhood Hits You Like A Train        

The day I realized I was a woman                                                                               

 

Monday there were sprinkles and spots

            Tuesday there were pools and raindrops

But today of all days things were drenched

 

The womb unraveled itself

So the blood could pour out

 

(She will clean you out of every crevice/she will spit you out of her mouth/she does not get her joy from you)

 

I am feeling like a woman today

My period is well on the way

Pimples sprouted on my forehead and chin

And I bemoaned Mother Nature and estrogen

For flooding my body with softness

 

Today a man followed me for a block or so

He followed me in broad daylight

I ran into the YMCA

And sat for fifteen minutes

Lips trembling

Hands shaking

Tears pressing against the back of my eyelids

 

            What if--?         The question lingers

What if with one snap of his fingers he

Owns both my body and my pride? (He could do it)

What if he takes me along in his stride

Nonchalantly and easy-like

As if he’s plucking wildflowers by the side of a winding dirt road? (I’ve seen it done)

What if he forces his fear of the world big and wide to bloom inside of me?

            (In truth he’s already done it)

 

            See

I have already run through

The gamut of dangerous scenarios for women while on the phone with my mother (she

lectures me on how to avoid the leering men in the elevator of my building)

I’ve already

Taken all the necessary classes

Carry pepper spray

Don’t show my teeth when I pass people on the street

But hear it? The question still pounds on the door

But what if/then/perhaps/maybe

Perhaps

Seeing me shrink

Will not be enough

So he will stake his claim in the terrain of my hills and plains

Muddying his hands in My Earth

Then he will waltz away on the backbones of My Emptiness

Leaving me                 

haunted

 

Stunted

Leaving me weeping

Wondering

Pondering

 

Is this what I am to give my daughter?

If//when she is born I am to hold her in my arms and say,

Here.

Take this Perfume of the Patriarchy.

Spritz it around your neck (it will hang like a noose)

Behind your ears (the catcalls will loosen and fade but the memory stays)

And don’t forget your wrists, my love (the spray will bind like shackles but do it do it anyway)

Do it do it anyway.

Now

Put on some lipstick.

And smile.

And board the train.