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The Wif and the Weapon

The First Woman grabbed the First Daughter
fresh on the chin, just moisturized,
spectator and the object,
red nails on skin reddened and blade puckered,
and there did she say,
“Do you think you’re a man?”

This is what I know.

Scattered not like stars across a canvas
dipped in brown paint by the hand
of the sun—more freckle-brown than
pale, where heat has burned the hairs
which curl on my own arms, wrinkles
on knuckles on fingers clawed red,
redder than the hair, long. Bright
blue eyes—she is the Eve of Paradise.

This is the First Woman.

My father’s rib, she’ll tear,
and he, hers.

I, the First Daughter.
My bones
they’ll grapple for.

They tell me,
This is what a woman has—
soft hairs on the cheek, skin of a peach
clear valleys between the breasts
invisible path to the legs
This is what I know.

Her wedding dress trailing over petals
released pink and white from my palm
free from the wobbly eyed ring-bearer, his name
I don’t remember—only the need to escape—
to free my hand from his. Before my Aunt, the Virgin,
her hands open white to grace a cold bed’s union.

Kitchen knife mishaps
Nails in the wall
Broken bowls
Accidents— a Woman has none.

She is clear she is clean she is perfect.

This is what I know.

These are my First Women.

When I first shaved the coarse hairs on my chin
a whisper, “shave it, or they’ll see,
and they’ll speak,” led the blades.
I cut too close, loosened the blood
on skin too dry.

The trick is to shear under a hot spray.

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