It takes work for a woman to welcome a fist
With her body. Fists are larger than the spaces
They make for themselves in a chest, or the holes
Into which we welcome them with longing.
Asking whether I wish for one now because I knew
Them well as a child is like asking if a volcano
Expels lava because, when a small mountain
Cloistered within seawaters, its first experience
Of heat was unbidden. The question
Requires a certain old knowledge of safety to ask.
What does it mean that the first time you saw a cock
It was raised in menace from a boil of shared blood,
The question says. Tell me the origin story of pain,
And tell me what happens to pain as it ages,
And tell me how the ocean-bottom dirt you grew
From tastes. Volcanoes understand differences
In kinds and in chords. The origin story of pain
Is abjection, foisted. Not a single stream of lava
Is like one that has come before or will come since.
All my lips make treacherous lights float in midair.
Copyright © 2020 Sumita Chakraborty
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.