BY GINGER KO
but always remembered: woman and not white
when I put jade against my body
Because she was often accused of hanging down her dog-face like her father’s dog face, she grows older and begins to feel the helpless anger weigh her face down, shadow her brow and jaw. She is constantly worried about a face that invites harm.
How am I supposed to be revolutionary if I’ve been bought? I learned to ride a
bike as women were always losing fetuses on bikes, and each time I step out there’s a
ringing attack. I go home and dig out the claws and eye-teeth that have been left behind in the
white tissue of my insides.
Vaguely-edged hives spread outwards from my chest and at last squirm away
through fingers and toes. Unsure if I was born to be more than a body of food, and maybe no death is undeserved. I don’t have to take any old miseries, I can just wake in an unconnected day. Only women linger as ghosts in this family.
You don’t take anything inside you. You don’t want condoms so I let them push
copper into my womb, into my arm, I take pills every morning and my body still won’t stop confusing. When I come home from the restaurant in the evenings, you take me to practice driving. I still walk to the abortion clinic eleven blocks away.
Every afternoon the other schoolchildren’s parents would speak too quickly for her to understand. But she knew that she was invited to bring a dessert for a schoolmate’s birthday party, and her daughter watched covetously while almond milk gelatin was prepared with canned fruit cocktail. Her daughter asked for bowlful after bowlful, until she found herself: “Stop asking for more! Stop asking for more!”
tongue-tip split that you have pried apart like raw steak, heavily blue:
the muscle-meat of my voice:
pities and dry night shivers
little animals strung in a shop window
old cooked rice re-watered and softened into a salty slurry
the stinging high sweetness of your lotioned hands
child-bearing years like the absence of a push clout punch on my body
when I wanted so badly to be touched
be told that I was no longer a part of an extended legacy
berserker calm berserker come
even in the mutedness of a violet snowing night have I been insistent
with speaking my story
She reads her sister’s dreams, but does not find herself in them. Big-bellied on her bike, she rides up to the drugstore to buy a baby ragdoll. Yarn as bright as hay, muslin bleached boldly white. But still, her in-laws work their jaws round and round and never stop talking, never stop putting her down. “A woman who doesn’t birth her husband a son gets left behind for a mistress,” they tell her. When the ultrasound reveals that she is carrying a girl, she weeps in her car until the parking lot is empty and the sky is dark.
Ginger Ko writes from Wyoming. Her poetry collection MOTHERLOVER is forthcoming from Coconut Books.