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
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)
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)
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
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 weeping
Is this what I am to give my daughter?
If//when she is born I am to hold her in my arms and say,
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.
Put on some lipstick.
And board the train.