Se­vere Women

Room Magazine - - CONTENTS - HANA SHAFI

who’s gonna love us? surely, you seek to touch women with softer skin white lilies on their thighs pure milk rolling off the mounds of their lips.

sweet princess who sways in chif­fon, just cur­tains in the breeze i re­mem­ber ev­ery night that i’ve been musky heavy drapes, dust-coated girl at the back of the east end party.

an­gu­lar, rigid, like the cliff’s face, steep fall, a steep di­a­logue, i wish i was more gen­tle. so i laughed more at jokes of men but my laugh­ter was brit­tle tree bark, my hap­pi­ness shrill, sharp, i broke ev­ery si­lence like shards of plas­tic party games, witty ban­ter it’s ru­ined i’m ru­ined.

i wanted to be smooth jade and grass. i wanted my voice to tum­ble out of my mouth like ivory sheets, like girls with no acne on their back, girls with­out chapped lips, i’m lit­er­ally flak­ing and crum­bling all over you.

and my speech would smell of lilac, but i speak in tongues of ash, cack­ling smoke crack­ling skin.

who’s gonna love us? us se­vere women

who perch on steps like thun­der­storms who break the heat with a BOOM, who try, like mar­tyrs to win de­vo­tion and in­stead frighten . . . us stone women, us women made of coal, and hard things. rough earth­bound girls, hardly dar­ling, soil in my fin­ger­nails, hairs on my fin­gers ever so vis­i­ble as i leaned over to shoot pool in the least se­duc­tive man­ner imag­in­able.

us women of fric­tion, who bring ten­sion, tough truth, whose smile cuts wa­ter into sheets of ice, whose breath is the awak­en­ing shiver to the back of the sleep­ing man, for we can never, not ever sleep shrouded in his ego even if do­ing so would make us loved.

who’s gonna love us? who’s gonna love us?

i sweetly shout into my pil­low, my muf­fled night whis­per stolen clouds of feather, turn­ing to gravel be­neath my cheek, i asked again:

who?

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