my grandfather was a native;
there’s no paperwork to prove it,
but old pictures seem to say more
than new words. Told me she lived
on the same hillside as him when
they were young, that once they were
working around the same garden—
said she never knew he was there,
not until she backed into him while
raking the land, looked up to see the sun
cowering behind him like a shadow.
He frightened her with his footsteps:
my grandfather could walk across
dry leaves without making any sound;
a white man, she said, could not.
I saw it in his face, the nativeness
that she spoke of: the cut of his jaws,
eyes which spoke bluntly without
his mouth shaping the words. I learned
gentleness by the way his tired hands,
palm-rough and cradling, gripped
my small frame, how one might
cup water before bringing it to the lips.
Most depict him with harshness,
misunderstanding more than much else.
My grandmother, on the other hand,
and on the wrong hand, married him
for his looks. His darkness, too hard
to look away from, drew her to him—
never his light.
Previously published at Forage
Not all women wear dresses; I don’t.
I do piss in the same public restrooms
as those who do. The doors have signs
decorated with a little female form,
shaped like an A, and lacking all color.
But we are not basic models, uniform;
we do not all have high-pitched voices
and dainty waists. Not all of us giggle
when a man eyes us; some of us stare back
with self worth flickering in our pupils.
I belong to no one. The tattoo that stretches
across the blade of my right shoulder says:
“I Am Mine.”
And I am.
We scare the simple-minded, and escape
the confines of tradition, all while embracing
the bits of it which do not condemn us.
Contrary to what the psychologists say,
we do not all want to marry men
who are like our fathers; hell, some of us
cringe at the very thought of marriage—
and of our fathers. Some of us want children,
but not husbands; others want the opposite
or none of the above. And those of us
who just want sex are not sluts or selfish.
Anyone who assumes such likely wants to live
like us, but is too stubborn to drop the standard
pre-conceptions and holier-than-thou scriptures
which define them as much as their hemlines.
I vote for and against those who are
for and against me and my interests; still,
we have few options and are seen as both
victims and threats, depending primarily upon
our appearance. The times are changing,
though; as are we. You, whoever you may be,
would do well to step out of our way, and to take
that damned A-dressed emblem off the door.
Published at The Fem Lit Magazine – October 2015
Source: A | Rachel Nix
I could drink the thunder in
some evenings, let the roaring
of it all put a rumble in my chest—
holler out, and be heard.
Yet I lack the grace that should be
winding through my veins by way
of my great-grandmother: a woman
who was not once, but twice,
slapped down by strikes of lightning.
She was not held down, though; no,
not this woman who was made of gods,
and held their power on the very tip
of her tongue. She could spit the ugliness
of this world out like a wad of snuff
and carry on, unhindered by any of it.
Not even the sky, with all of its glory
and ill intent combined, could take
a thing from Mrs. Veatrice Guttery,
the woman who swallowed lightning
and walked on, as if it was natural.
Originally published by Up the Staircase Quarterly – February 2015