I have begun to tell the students
my politics: always dangerous
in box-shouldered academe, walls
where whispers strike thin cracks,
widen, echo, suck. I speak
of women’s bodies, choice, language
that keeps men men but makes of women
girls, chicks, cunts, slits, pieces
of a twisted dream of domination.
The 18-year-olds in their warm socks stare
all pink and green, small alligators
dancing on their shirts. One mutters
“feminist,” daring just that much
against the red ink my pen wields.
They will write home to fathers and mothers
—or, more likely, call collect—and tell
of the teacher who wears her hair short,
who says strange things that have nothing to do
with them, their needs, their nights, their money,
the jobs they will hold in four years.
Katharyn Howd Machan