Monday, August 02, 2010

Women Are Taught - Patricia Smith

I'm convinced that's it's a man's smell that pulls us in-
faux leather and spiced soap, splashes of lemon
and Old Spice, the odd oil tinging his sweat.
As women, we were designed to wither beneath
the mingled stench of them. As a woman, I was

yo, yo, baby work that big ass, you must want
what i got
to wither
c'mon honey just let daddy stick it in a little bit
bitch of course i love you i give you money don't i

Why else would i cage myself in glorious raiment
of spandex and lace, paint my panting the hues
of burn, twist my voice from madam to smoke?
Why else, once he has left me, do I bury my face
in the place his sex has pressed, inhale
what he has left, and pray to die there?

On the day I married, I was such porcelain,
delicate and poised to shatter, I was unflinching,
sure of my practiced vows,
already addicted to the sanctity of bondage.
I was an unfurled ballad in a scoop-necked
sheath carved of sugar. And him on my arm,

grinning like a bear, all sinew and swagger,
Bibles were everywhere. Dizzied by rote,

I stared at the gold rope around my finger.
He owned me.
And that felt nice.
That felt right.

the first time i hit her
I thought the loose tooth a temporary nightmare
the second time i hit her
He cried himself to sleep, and that was nice
that was right
the third time i hit her
He counted my scars and whispered never again
baby never again

When i'd die without you
turned to i'll kill you if you ever leave me
I bristled like a hound in heat, I didn't
understand the not being aroused, when
let's get away
turned to
you'll never get away
such heat rippled my
belly such crave in me screeching walk run run run

i etched a thin line into the throat of her running
i stalked streets just a breath beneath her
i shattered our son's skull with a shotgun
i wanted her dead.

My first thought as he jammed the
still smoking barrel into my breastbone
her first thought
as the blade mapped my chest, the
hammer sliced the air toward my hair
the bullet pushed me through a plate glass window
my last thought was you won't believe this
my last thought
you really won't believe this
my last thought
he must really

love me


Eric Alder said...

(What I meant to say)

What a stellar piece! Patricia really captured those raw emotions and inlaced themt with the random, scattered thoughts that can occur in the midst of such an ordeal.

Maree said...

Yes, that's real poetry - when someone can paint an emotional picture that is visible to anyone. It's such a visceral and moving piece, love it.