Rising with Her Red Hair


I have never forgotten                     the night

my father looked at my body and saw only
another fuckable woman living

under his roof.

Women are places
where men                              put things:

bits of flesh
intimate and embarrassing,

emotions too unmasculine to carry            openly
like a purse. Demeaningly useful,

better to deny.

Like landfill next to a gleaming city:
the spires shine best in the dying light

at sunset

as trash heaps heat
to stink their worst.

The oldest profession: Blaming the object coveted

for our own desire.
Did anyone check under Adam’s fig leaf

the day the snake took itself off for a walk
to talk from a tree?

Adam got to blame Eve for the naked

lust lodging in his eyes
while Eve’s eyes got wide

and finally clear.

I am

on-my-knees hands-to-god

that on the night my father saw how

droit du seigneur coupled                    with a daughter

in the house
made its own brutal but algebraic

logic —

he resolved to resolve his equation with fury          instead,

disemboweling his self-hatred
over top of me.                           Preferable

to what
thought he needed rage to drown

the night a man saw not his child
but a gash

broken open to the world.

[featured image via]

12 thoughts on “Rising with Her Red Hair

  1. The opening is so engaging and vital, I can’t imagine this poem starting any other way.

    Some other favorite parts:

    the definition of women as “places/where men put things”

    “emotions too unmasculine to carry openly
    like a purse.” love this line break and caesura!

    The comparison of landfill to city reveals so much about the father.

    Algebraic logic is such a good move here, bringing in that logical mindset in such an emotional moment, again, paints a character portrait of the father very well.

    God and that close! SO good. It’s a little uncomfortable, but so is the subject matter so it is wildly appropriate.

    Wonderful, wonderful stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! “Women are places / where men put things” is perhaps my favorite line, too.

      This piece began with just the opening and closing sentences — making it clearly an act of venting, rather than poetry (the pulling-back issue I mentioned earlier). This was one piece where I really felt bumped up against the limits of my technical skills. Many of the line breaks, and all the gaps in spacing, were driven by rage more than any logic. So… I’m feeling more clearly than ever before that seeking out ways to remediate my poetry chops is going to be a big goal over the next couple of years.

      But. A topic for another day. 🙂 Thanks again for the very specific comments — I’m deeply appreciative!


    1. Thank you. 🙂 I do feel as though I’m getting better at baking some of the absolute rawness out, when I tackle these issues — good to know that’s coming across!

      Liked by 1 person

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