When did you first become aware
of their benign neglect, their
terrible, grandiose omnipotence
at your expense? Was it your own
father making jokes about how women
are generally not to be trusted
because they have two mouths;
or at a reception table where the only
man seated there (a scientist)
did not deign to make conversation
with the wives and mothers at one end?
Was it the senator who claimed he
was only joking when he dismissed
single mothers for having been knocked up?
Was it the podiatrist who decided
to slice off half your toe-
nail without prior consultation, to solve
the smaller issue of the ingrown part?
You limped away from that and other injurious
encounters feeling unseen, unsettled, unwomaned,
undone; vowing that next time, you’d open your mouth
to show your protest, your disgust, your rage.