A definition of womanhood

I wailed a welcome – baring ribs 

between my teeth. Adam’s. 

Before I crumpled, converted to sheets

left in the cold to dry, dresses hung 

above steamy showers, creases pushing

themselves away with nervous hands.

I learned quiet. I learned how swiftly fire

burns, not when played with but when held

unflinchingly close to your face.

I was expected to seep through the cracks –

become the gentle autumn rain,

forgiving myself in silence, upon broken

panes of glass.

The dark read me bedtime stories,

taught me to find spaces for myself –

spaces which would never contain

my star-woven greatness because I am more.

I am more than pressed flowers

between dog-eared pages of your favourite novels.

I am more than the woman you learned to spell,

to say second to man.

I wailed my welcome – throaty howls

wombing with arrival, blood on par

with the tumultuous sea, baring Adam’s rib

in my mouth, in my hands, 

behind my grass stained knees; watch,

watch it snap like a wishbone.

Watch me spit out the pain

which was never mine 

to keep.

Poem: © Kristiana Reed 2021


2 thoughts on “A definition of womanhood

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