Is it stupid to startle at the sight of a man?

When toothless wind moves its mouth across your back,

Dredges up something dusky, dim, and primal,

And you can feel the dark figure from yards away.

Might as well be miles, may as well be millimeters.

 

When it is a warm December, and the night

Rots in your nostrils and rests noxious on your face,

His face a black bank hole. Your face is

Three days from soap and three months from a kiss.

 

When your left shoulder shakes, throws a shudder from one

Scapula to the other, and you try to grind down the movement

And to grind down fear, the way you grind down your own teeth

At night asleep, dreaming and feeling this very scene.

 

When the winter is warm and the wind too soft in your hair,

Go home. Shrug off the coat and the feeling of déjà vu

That accompanies the gingko smell and fear felt at night.

Shrug off shame and silliness. See your sister in the silence.

 

In the light of two lamps, take comfort in the way

Your abdomen and your uterus unclasp their death grip hands

As you breathe deeply, straighten those formerly shaking shoulders.

Find joy in the pocket of air between each vertebra.

 

Comb the warm December out of your hair and dig it out

From underneath your fingernails, five per hand, one hand at a time.

Promise to do more, better, for yourself and others, for your sister in the silence.

Empower yourself the same way you pick up your toothbrush.

 

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World premiere of Buddhist Oratorio