Hysteria Dialectic

I am a woman.
There is a man inside of me.
I want him out.

My cells, too long divided
into cubbyholes. In storage
unit “one” slumps a woman

knitting herself into a body,
a blanket. She’s the needle,
not the hand that knits.

In storage unit “two,” a man.
He holds a megaphone, shouts next door:
I am the hands! I am the voice!

Then, furtively, so no one will see, he applies
a thick coat of mascara and masquerades
in hysterical lingerie.

I am a woman, I say it again.
There is a man inside of me.
I feel him squirming, all hard

and skeleton
when I shake my hips,
and I shake them often.

Perhaps that man was me.
I looked into the mirror, cold
and linear, saw myself

with a mustache,
all bushy-tailed like Frida,
and all at once I had to escape.

I wanted babies,
babies and more babies,
a great big family of babies.

But then, the man took over.
My breasts fell off. My chest
concaved. My face grew furry.

My hair cut itself short.
I watched it plunge in clumps
down the lion-legged bathtub.

Without hair,
without makeup,
without ovaries,

I wondered, am I still
a woman? Convergent? Imagination,
my connective tissue?

And my words, my
woman words, oozing
with female contingencies,

leaky, compulsive,
murky and tangled,
charging back.

Even with fallopian tubes clogged
like drain pipes stuffed with hair,
even with the stain

of floodwater, the silt
of years, my voice is still
unbridled, my body worth

salvage. My words bear power, bear
fruit, bare spaces
where no hysterectomy

can split my woman kind, nor
wreck my hothouse, hotbed
blazing woman mind.

Visit Jennifer Givhan online at jennifergivhan.com.