One for the Ladies

“A Woman’s Place” by Denice Frohman

i heard a woman becomes herself
the first time she speaks
without permission

then, every word out of her mouth
a riot

say, beautiful
& point to the map of your body
say, brave
& wear your skin like a gown or a suit
say, hero
& cast yourself in the lead role

///

when a girl pronounces her own name
there is glory

when a woman tells her own story
she lives forever

all the women i know are perennials–
marigolds, daffodils
soft things that refuse to die

i don’t come from anything tamed or willing
i come from soil flossed with barbed wire

meaning, abuela would cuss you out
with the same breath     she kissed

you with     her bood
a wild river

my mother     doesn’t rely on instruction manuals
or men            nor does she equate the two

can fix anything
if you get out of her way

says the best technology
is her own two hands

///

but once, i dreamed     i had no teeth
just a mouth                             to hold
other people’s                          things

if this poem is the only thing that survives
me

tell them i grew a new tongue
tell them i built me a throne

tell them when we discovered life on another planet
it was a woman
& she built a bridge, not a border

got god & named gravity
after herself.

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