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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

What they mean when they say woman:

By: Olivia Kingery

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.


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