Two Poems

after Susan Bordo

I remember my palm smothering my brother’s abhorrent mouth.
Younger, he was too much, oblivious to the faces of others,

and there was never a time where I was. His body was seamless,
running feral with the pack of boys who coveted our grass, 

and my envy articulate, acute. Early, I understood 
how women were kept in rooms; worse, 

how frequently it was the result of their own volition. Early,
I sharpened spears in my backyard,

the sticks thinning under the rush of the sharp rocks,
the trees puckered from the amputation of limbs.

I could press them to my brother’s neck if I wanted;
I could kill an animal if I wanted. But I never did,

or I don’t remember. What I remember is knowing pleasure
at the sight of my shirt hiked up to my breasts,

the smoothness of the stomach that revealed itself at seven.
I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t doing that; lifting my shirt

and checking my width, my hands cleaving the fat. Even then, I knew
I could have a particular type of power; that soon,

I would let anyone touch me
in the same way I did myself.

As Influenced
while reading Virginia Woolf

The woman’s breath crowded her tongue. This I know. 
How I have lived in the muteness of the home, 

how I came to language slowly, learning injury
in my mother’s mouth flicking

and giving way to more, the words fixing argument,
then carving out my bones. 

I spoke when I was spoken to, countered,
moved from the state of being watched

to watching. It’s futile, then: the memory of a man
teaching me to punch in the corner of a bar, as if you are spilling

a cup of coffee, or shutting myself in a basement,
splitting my muscles under the strain of black machines. 

But Virginia, these conditions are far from perfect— 
the distinction between hostility and indifference

is that indifference never had a mouth.  
I whet mine in hostility’s wake: spent summers reading

while the hot blank metal of a chair imprinted into my skin.
I would peel an orange back to membrane, 

enmesh its pulp in my teeth. 
Watch as the went juice running, then was left

on my wrist, on my mutilated thumb;
left anxious, there, for the tongue of the dogs.

AMANDA LARSON is a writer from New Jersey, and an incoming MFA candidate in poetry at New York University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps College. 

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