in its ability to cope, heal, suffer
the battles biology/ ecology/ man
wage against it. A belly ache,
a bitten tongue, a black eye.
Alzheimer’s, cancer. GHB.
God only gives you a cross heavy
enough to bear, but He never considered
how hard the straw is on the camel,
what it’s survived. A woman’s body--
what you deem insurance against
hurricanes, labor, viruses, and divorce
even after watching Gloria Steinem
interview a Congolese woman
burned and raped by twenty men
ten years ago. She lived you said,
but what does her body house now
but the banshees of youth, cataracts
that see not things but through, planets
of scars, a blood-pumping grenade,
an ache so viscous and vicious,
so wide, the Great Flood becomes a shower.
In spite of every prayer I fake through,
despite how much Gloria says otherwise,
our body (more often than not)
is a shantytown: a bloodstained
skirt on the line, a lover’s dirty boots
at the door, children chanting Victorian
nursery rhymes, a steaming pot of rice
on the stove, humming, humming.