Dangerous for Girls- Connie Voisine

Initially, the appeal of this piece for me was the title. I’m always searching for new poets, new poetry, new words that inspire and this hit the mark for me. I grew up learning lessons about what could be dangerous for girls but not being hindered by those fears. My mother was a tomboy, I was a pseudo tomboy(loved being wild and doing what the boys did but loved wearing dresses too) and my parents and both of my grandfathers encouraged me to be myself.  I carry those lessons with me everyday and  most of the time they outweigh the fears  of being a woman in a society where that’s viewed as weakness.  I hope that you all enjoy this poem! And are loving National Poetry Month!

haven

 

 

It was the summer of Chandra Levy, disappearing

from Washington D.C., her lover a Congressman, evasive

and blow-dried from Modesto, the TV wondering

 

in every room in America to an image of her tight jeans and piles

of curls frozen in a studio pose. It was the summer the only

woman known as a serial killer, a ten-dollar whore trolling

 

the plains of central Florida, said she knew she would

kill again, murder filled her dreams

and if she walked in the world, it would crack

 

her open with its awful wings. It was the summer that in Texas, another

young woman killed her five children, left with too many

little boys, always pregnant. One Thanksgiving, she tried

 

to slash her own throat. That summer the Congressman

lied again about the nature of his relations, or,

as he said, he couldn’t remember if they had sex that last

 

night he saw her, but there were many anonymous girls that summer,

there always are, who lower their necks to the stone

and pray, not to God but to the Virgin, herself once

 

a young girl, chosen in her room by an archangel.

Instead of praying, that summer I watched television, reruns of

a UFO series featuring a melancholic woman detective

 

who had gotten cancer and was made sterile by aliens. I watched

infomercials: exercise machines, pasta makers,

and a product called Nails Again With Henna,

 

ladies, make your nails steely strong, naturally,

and then the photograph of Chandra Levy

would appear again, below a bright red number,

 

such as 81, to indicate the days she was missing.

Her mother said, please understand how we’re feeling

when told that the police don’t believe she will be found alive,

 

though they searched the parks and forests

of the Capitol for the remains and I remembered

being caught in Tennessee, my tent filled with wind

 

lifting around me, tornado honey, said the operator when I called

in fear. The highway barren, I drove to a truck stop where

maybe a hundred trucks hummed in pale, even rows

 

like eggs in a carton. Truckers paced in the dining room,

fatigue in their beards, in their bottomless

cups of coffee. The store sold handcuffs, dirty

 

magazines, t-shirts that read, Ass, gas or grass.

       Nobody rides for free, and a bulletin board bore a

public notice: Jane Doe, found in a refrigerator box

 

outside Johnson, TN, her slight measurements and weight.

The photographs were of her face, not peaceful in death,

and of her tattoos Born to Run, and J.T. caught in

 

scrollworks of roses. One winter in Harvard Square, I wandered

drunk, my arms full of still warm, stolen laundry, and

a man said come to my studio and of course I went—

 

for some girls, our bodies are not immortal so much as

expendable, we have punished them or wearied

from dragging them around for so long and so we go

 

wearing the brilliant plumage of the possibly freed

by death. Quick on the icy sidewalks, I felt thin and

fleet, and the night made me feel unique in the eyes

 

of the stranger. He told me he made sculptures

of figure skaters, not of the women’s bodies,

but of the air that whipped around them,

 

a study of negative space,

which he said was the where-we-were-not

that made us. Dizzy from beer,

 

I thought why not step into

       that space? He locked the door behind me.

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