Spring 2012 - THE POTOMAC

Two Poems
   Jennifer Browne


Young women,
ashamed to speak aloud
the messy realities
of their bodies,
have developed a rich
and varied lexicon
for menstruation.
Some may be merely
sick or unwell,
but others may be
riding the red tide,
visiting Aunt Flo,
or having a red–letter day.
They may be enlisting in the war
or marching in Red Square.

Who among us can fault them
for not wanting to proclaim
the shedding of their uterine lining?
It is unpleasant, after all,
to wake in a pool of blood.
It is unpleasant
to know that one's body is never
one's own,
and this blood
is a liquid symbol
of an ever–present threat:
the eggs in their ovaries
are dormant little bombs
waiting for a detonator
to ignite them..

Normative Depilation

A Reply to Gerard Lafemina’s “My Father Watches My Mother Shaving”

Of course.
When he writes about a woman's shaving,
he eroticizes the actó
her long, naked leg
extends into the steam of the room;
the father kneels in supplication.
When he writes about a woman's shaving,
he writes about the leg,
not the armpits
or the face,
yet these territories
are also expected
to be hairless,
and that doesn't just happen.

Researchers have determined
that even though women pluck and wax
their bodily and facial hair,
shaving is the most common
method of hair removal,
which is "the most taken for granted work
of producing an 'acceptable' femininity."

I think, then, that I should write a poem
about my daughter watching her mother
shaving, roughly based on
Rockwell's "Little Shaver:"
the boy, learning the practice
of manhood, gazes admiringly at his father,
whose chin is a white beard of suds.
For girls, however,
this initiation into
the full maintenance of the body
offers only silence and derision
for those who must scrape themselves
into normative submission
before they can step daintily outside.

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