Identifying The Remains Of A Woman: A Poem

I had no idea who you were.

I forgot about you. Almost.

I stemmed from you, too.

I associate you with broken glass.

With violence against you.

With a backbone that eventually broke.

Helpless. Exposed. Pleading.

You were begged for forgiveness

When you lay dead in your tomb.


What do I have to do with you?

Everything and nothing. I grew up

Observing in comparisons. Defying what I saw.

I saw the death trap. I wanted life. Without the horns

That had been so tolerated, so accepted, so woven

Into the female texture, the marks on your skin, no,

Not like that, on mine, when I became old enough,

Strong enough, fed up enough, I defended every

Single part of me. My physicality. My body. And yet.


Perpetrators always find ways. I wasn’t taught

To build up the same resistance in my mind,

Drenched by his malady that he subjected me to

For years. I couldn’t shake that off so easily. I felt

Devoid of resources. I copied the withering of nerves.


What remained of you to look at and identify,

The white hair, the brittle bones, a dress in shreds

Perhaps, they are still begging you, forcing all of your

Love out of you. They took everything you had to give.

You fed them your life and they chewed grinding their teeth like

Famished and rabid dogs, digesting motherhood into oblivion,

Into ruins, into worthlessness, ingratitude around their blood-mouths.


Nobody ever helped you.

Identifying what remained of you.

The downfall of a family.

Torn at the core. Trying to get rid of one another.

What did you live for?

What did you sacrifice your life for?

They weren’t worthy. They never gave you anything in return.

Or did that not matter at all? Is that what women, mothers, were for?

Nurture the male sex and offspring and die trying, die as a result?

Unseen and starved? Molested and mutilated?

woman with plant on back
Photo by Rafael Barros on

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