Cathexis Northwest Press
By: Joanna Kurimsky
the thing about women and clubbing is
the thing about dancing in a circle
the fire is where everything starts
the thing about war is
sometimes your shoe is a weapon
the thing is
is that you can’t even go to the grocery store
without having to defend yourself in some way
the thing is
you don’t even notice anymore
it’s not like being clubbed over the head
the thing is
she set sail with seven men
a famously stormy channel
the sailboat is still missing
no survivor or plank of wood
has ever been found
the robe burned across her callused palms
each fiber a stinging knife
she thinks only that
she should have said all of me
she should have said
it takes a big mouth to swallow a sailboat whole
when the boat capsized
she didn’t scream
she didn’t pray
she only held the rope
my heart hurts.
in tide pools
collect gold rings
and copper pennies
piles of treasure and failure
hoarded in a dripping cave
i deserve everything that comes to me.
Joanna Kurimsky is originally from New Jersey, where, despite the proximity of the sea, she experienced over a decade of writer’s block. She currently finds herself unblocked in Portland, Oregon and recently, her poem 'Pocket Meditation' was accepted for publication in the online literary journal, theSame.
“This poem was written in 2015. Each part appeared to me as a different girl, or girls. They rose up in front of me like characters in a dream, and I hope that readers will be able to spot the ones I missed.
Part I was somewhat inspired by this stand-up comedian I had heard telling a joke about how women often dance in a circle when out at a club. I wanted to comment on the divide between men’s awareness of women and the protective behaviors that women perform - that they MUST perform, to protect themselves and each other from men. Some are learned and some are instinctive - primal, even - which caused the connection between “clubbing” and “being clubbed over the head” to be made.
Part 2 began with a true story I heard about a sailboat that disappeared off the coast of Australia, but shaped by the possible story of the girl who holds the rope. She may have gone down with the ship or she may have been responsible for sinking it. The girl could even be the sea. An inescapable maelstrom full of injustice and rage and desire for revenge.
Part 3 is more personal to me. I saw the resentment and loneliness of a woman who has isolated herself as a result of fear. I saw the girl who couldn’t get her words out in Part 1, and the girl in Part 2 who sunk the ship full of men. I saw also a sea-witch, like Grendel’s mother, a literary character who, even in high school, struck me as fascinating and heartbreaking and overlooked. She is both bitter and somewhat satisfied, but I think she wards against isolation."