a woman can fracture open under
unspeakable violence. skin can
tear like the voice can break
and go silent.
a poet can speak of radical honesty,
carefully document a life, and hold
without believing she broke
but in the end, to have grace,
she can speak the words because
another woman stands at her back
and only then is she safe
to say, yes, there was blood
and emotion, but in the end
there were fourteen stitches
threaded through her animal self
that remade a woman who could speak
a woman can choose to allow
her own destruction.
her body becomes self-obsessed
in an ocean of pain and she gives herself
over, pushing against the waves.
another woman stands beside her,
only then is she safe, and says,
reach down and feel your skin open –
no longer a poet,
or simply a woman,
as her skin splits, again,
she is her own fierce self,
her fingers feel the rush,
the arrival of life,
not simply an animal, despite
twelve stitches, not a woman who
can speak, but
a mother, listening
to her daughter’s
first soft cry.
Kate Hammerich has been previously published in The Missing Slate — her poems “Tuesday” and “the deep black” have appeared in our fourth issue and first literature web issue respectively.