So, You Think I'm Afraid of You?
I'm not afraid of you or the black sun. I'm not afraid of the colony of ants in my ceiling or the displaced persons sleeping in my treehouse. I'm not afraid of the rain depluming the clothes from my skin as it pelts down hard as hail, hard as a hammer, hard as the shell of a musk turtle overturned and unable to right itself. I'm not afraid of the dove-colored smoke moving in the air in the pattern of a cry for help; in the pattern of waving goodbye. I'm not afraid to be ejected from the opera house for singing along to the aria about the woman about to hang herself because her lover won't convert to her family's religion. Or because she is dying of scarlet fever. A friend today saying Crazy how the venom stays in the body for days , referring to a Tabano fly bite on her foot. I'm not afraid of downing a whole bottle of tainted Tabasco sauce or of diving into a gelid and storm-tossed ocean where the only people on the beach are lovers sequestered in the sand dunes far enough away that they would never hear my cries for help. It's hard enough to ask a stranger for jumper cables or a neighbor to water your lawn, in case of severe drought, while you go away for a few weeks to fat camp, in hopes of coming home thinner. Some men are tender and say it just means there is more of you to love . Other men are controlling and say Don't eat--! and don't eat--! Others have an arrogant, elevated, and erroneous sense of empathy and offer How about I drive alongside you in my truck while you huff it around the block four or five times ? While driving they are drinking beer, eating pork rinds and ranch-flavored corn nuts and listening to the radio with the heater on, as you jog in threadbare shoes, in the frigid air, like someone being relocated, forced to traverse for days across the Trail of Tears. But that is another opera in progress. I'm not afraid of progress; it's just that I see so little of it. And I will understand you calling me out for using the Trail of Tears in a way that diminishes the devastation it was for those who walked it and those who starved and collapsed along the way. I'm not afraid to apologize for that. I'm not afraid to tell you that it's physically impossible for a pig to raise its head to the sky. I'm not afraid of the sky.
JOANNE DOMINIQUE DWYER is the author of Belle Laide (Sarabande, 2013). She is a recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, a Bread Loaf Scholarship, and the Anne Halley Poetry Prize.
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|Author:||Dwyer, Joanne Dominique|
|Publication:||The American Poetry Review|
|Date:||May 1, 2018|
|Previous Article:||Other Women Don't Tell You.|
|Next Article:||Prairie Erasure.|