"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


Student Body, A White Girl Talks About Color, Vagina Envy

Student Body, A White Girl Talks About Color, Vagina Envy

Student Body

Trained to cultivate minds, now I defend
bodies.

Even while boring tenth graders to tears
with the glory of Thoreau’s vision,
Fully one quarter of my brain is preoccupied
with preserving the integrity of student bodies.

These vessels of hope for the future
are crafted of blood and bone and sinew
that can be destroyed.

Thus the door is closed and locked.
The bookshelf can be quickly slid over to block it
to buy some precious time.
(I know, I’ve tried.)
Books and desks can be thrown.
Scissors can tear into flesh.
Windows can become doors;
A broken ankle a welcome alternative to
a gunshot in the face.

Diplomas are no longer mere certificates of achievement
but also triumphant flags of survival.
Teachers, once muses, are now shepherds
constantly vigilant
of every set of wolfsteps in the hall. 

 

 

A White Girl Talks About Color

 Not hot like smoked chilies. Not bold and
exotic like paphiopedilum orchids. Not

luscious brown like butter and sugar
caramelized together in a pan over a hot

stove. No, I am cool and white as the
frosting on mass-produced breakfast

cereal, a damn porcelain teacup teetering
on a dainty saucer – I do not want to teeter,

and fuck if I will make that noise known
as tinkling. I want the job of naming nail

enamel colors. In my veins runs the blood
of ancestors from many worlds, but 

who was there first? Oh please tell me that
somewhere in my genes is something golden,

something olive, something tan. Anything
to rectify the void of this tepid peach crayon.

 

 

Vagina Envy                                                                                     

Nine men around the boardroom table.
Nine. I am sure of it; I have counted twice.
Nine men and one female body.

They try not to make eye contact as they interrogate me.
Are you sure you never left your phone unattended on your desk?
A detective, staring at his laptop screen, clears his throat tightly.

Is there anyone who could be trying to get revenge on you?
They are trying to avoid embarrassing me,
But it is they who are embarrassed.

Is everything ok in your marriage? 
I know they have seen the stolen pictures
And by stolen pictures I mean my bare tits

My torso stretched long and arching
Head tilted to the side, neck exposed alluringly
They know where I have tattoos

They have connected the constellations of my freckles.
I am not upset about that. We are all humans; we all have bodies.
The picture-thief failed to deal me terror in that way.  

Were there any other images that might be released?
The physical presence in this office of my body,
With its pulse and curves and crevices

Is making them uncomfortable.
Do you know of anyone else who has received the pictures?
They would prefer I be that two-dimensional unseeing face

In perfect lighting, legs splayed out for inspection, high heels slick and red.
Something in their conditioning tells them they should be protecting me
From the thief and from myself, but they can’t:

This game is eons old.
Someone wanted a taste of my energy,
To control and wield the cosmic power churning in my veins.

These silly boys. Cops and robbers
Both sides at a loss for how to handle
My female body. 


Megan Neville is an English language arts teacher, avid world traveler, rabid music lover, intermittent tattoo collector, and amateur vegetarian chef living in Cleveland, Ohio with her spouse and three cats. She drinks way too much coffee and doesn't have nearly enough time to read the stacks of books she stares at longingly while completing necessary adult-ish tasks instead. Instagram: @MegNevJ

Photo by Nicola Tolin on Unsplash

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