Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

What they mean when they say woman:

They mean brittle bone dry
with enamel showing.
They mean don’t walk alone
at night,
                no actually -

don’t walk alone at all.
They mean baseball hats
pulled down blocks the front
upper quadrant of your vision,

which is no good when you’re
striving to just stay alive. Woman
as in my brothers don’t know how
my father’s voice
                                 cracks when I tell him
I am on a dark street
                                        almost home
and he says stay on the phone.
They mean my power diminished
by my breasts, by my mouth

poised to repent, by the restraint of
a man’s hand on my throat, begging,
to just stay alive. I want to watch
their throats crumble, unhinge,

when they finally know what
it is to say woman, when they can’t reach
us on the top, the crown of life, when they
learn what it means to be trampled by women.

Olivia Kingery is a writer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University, where she is a graduate teaching assistant. Her work is published and forthcoming with The Ore Ink Review, Dunes Review, From Whispers to Roars, and Cosmographia. When not writing, she is in the woods with her Chihuahua and Saint Bernard.