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Resisting Female Contingency

Joanna Omestad


after Adrienne Rich

Everything wanted and hated is called she—

earth, ocean, ship, vessel          all she can be

is a vessel

for children for men for problems for the world

Calendars etched on ancient bones

counted 28 days

in a month because only women are

betrothed          to their own blood

Relying for too long on gaslit heat that

wilts canopies of leaves and boils

oceans of saltwater,                     it scorches

instead of warms, shatters

                 instead of welds, welts instead of welds

The glass we have to learn how to walk on—

bottling feelings that                   leave with the tide

and wash up on other continents,         shrapnel

from internal battles that can never be won

I’m so heavy in this body in this cloud

of smoke

so heavy in the light

I am like a moth to you, a bad butterfly

with tattered wings that no longer levitate

                                                                  I bleed bleach

and my pores

leak silicone but not of my own design

and I am

an instrument in the shape of a woman

slowly bending into my own form

and I am tired of marble being                heavier

than wood, when wood

                                               can ignite flame

Joanna Omestad is a senior undergraduate at the University of Maryland from Bethesda, Maryland. She is obtaining a B.A. in psychology, a certificate in women’s studies, and a creative writing minor.

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