⏤ After Pablo Neruda and Fannie Lou Hamer
I’m tired of being a woman. I walk
into grocery stores and laundromats wet
with the cracked face of a maidenhead
lurching across the Atlantic.
I want to sleep like a seed in stony ground.
I want the phone to stop biting my ear. I want to forget
the bills and keep the lights on.
It so happens I’m tired of my boots and my wrists
and my hair and my waist and my womb
with its weary flowers.
The smell of milk makes me gag. The sight
of forsythia makes me moan out loud.
I don’t want so much repetition.
I don’t want to go on being a limp
sail, raised or lowered at whim, battered
and drenched, filled with what’s invisible.
I don’t want to go on as a sail and a sieve.
That’s why Sunday, when I wake
with my debutante face dusted with blush
and it pushes me into bleak hotel rooms,
into shopping malls bright as casinos,
into humid church pews, and into the backs
of all things—
there is salt everywhere: in the cupboard,
in my eye, on the sidewalk. I march
with my signs, my coat, my hoarse
singing, remembering everything. I walk
through the bowels of the city, past endless windows,
under marble arches, through a park with rocks
scrawled by graffiti. Still, it would be lovely
to roam the streets with foam rollers pinned like carp
to my netted hair. It would be great to rage.
It would be marvelous to weep.
Fannie Lou Hamer (October 6, 1917 – March 14, 1977)
Pablo Neruda (July 12, 1904 – September 23, 1973)