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ISSUE:  Summer 2017


If you had asked me, thirteen, what I wanted
to be one day, I wouldn’t have said it.
I wanted, for a long time, to be anything
but myself, knew that a soon-to-be
woman was the second worst thing
in the world after a woman, full
stop, and I was heading there fast.
I could see it, my breasts rudely
nudging into view, their snug caps
like the knit caps of infants, rosy-
colored as a tongue. And how
terrifying, the thought of a mouth there,
rooting, and what could be drawn
from me that I didn’t need—what else
skulked in me unseen, stirring in secret
vats with milk yet untapped, and blood,
the strange, new wellspring? I was just beginning
to understand the possibilities, my body’s
elusive, independent workings, machineries
chugging away in dark chambers
not just left to but simply
their own devices, unknowable and sovereign.
What I wanted, always, to be:
in control. And I knew this was
impossible, just as I knew, even then, that
to be a mother was to be the only
permissible form of a woman, the begrudging
exception to the rule of our worth-

               So if you asked me again,
twenty-three, I’d tell you the worst thing
you could be is not a woman but
barren, the industry shut down and the parts
missing, malformed. And I’d tell you the shame of it:
the feminine failure, its ache
a reminder—at the center the tumor
ballooning, like hope.





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