SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

evening : girl

I

 

Most of the women I know sleep with a weapon.

A crowbar between the headboard and the bed,

a hammer just under the mattress. Truth?

We’ve been women all our lives. Baby,

we know our misogyny.

Our trust has a honed edge, always woke.

 

Because we’ve lain awake,

insomnia as much a weapon

as a curse, listening in the dark, a mass

of sibilant shadow, lain awake in our beds

listening for the floorboard creak, the debate

raging in our heads. It’s safe now, trust.

 

But. We know everything’s a weapon. Best learn the truth

early. Sweetheart? Wake up. Your mouth is full of teeth.

 

II

 

You bite. You kick. You scream. This is a truth

we teach our daughters. I feel like I am just now waking

up. This America says girl babies

turn from children to objects in a minute. Weaponized

bodies overnight. As I tuck my pre-teen into bed,

I wonder exactly how much misogyny

 

it took for me to reach middle age with a mess

of defensive lessons right behind my eyes. Don’t trust

any man. Keys between your fingers to gouge. Best

stay sober. Yell fire, not rape. Our boy babies wake

one sudden morning as licensed weapons.

Each and every one, somebody’s baby.

 

It’s true. Every morning, mothers wake their babies,

lock and load for the bed that has been made.

 

III

 

Hush little baby,

don’t say a word. Papa’s gonna miss

the point. The mockingbird’s voice is a weapon

for which a diamond ring is no substitute.

I am a grown woman. I am a little girl awake

in the dark tucked in to my bed

 

and quiet. Something lurks in the dark, and my bed

crouches. My ears are trained to hear my babies’

breathing, to hear each distinct footfall. I am awake

in my own bed in my own house, mistress

to fear. Papa’s gonna teach you a truth:

the weapon that you know is better than the weapon

 

you miss. Evening is to girl as silence is to truth.

They tell you you better hush? Baby, choose your weapon.


Gabrielle Brant Freeman's poetry has been published in many journals, including EMRYS, One, Scoundrel Time, storySouth, Whale Road Review, and Waxwing. She was nominated for a Pushcart in 2017, and she was a Best of the Net 2014 finalist. Gabrielle won the 2015 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition. Press 53 published her book, When She Was Bad, in 2016. Gabrielle earned her MFA through Converse College. Read more at http://gabriellebrantfreeman.squarespace.com.

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