Over lunch, with a forkful of salad that waveredfor a few minutes in front of her mouth, a girlfriendof mine, a novelist friend, discussed her idea for a superhero.In the face of perilous danger our girl would whip offhoop earrings and with a flick of her bangledwrist wield them against opponents. After injuringher arch rival, forcing him underground, and halting his plotto gentrify the neighborhood, discs boomeranged backto the earlobes of our fearless hero, poised and readyfor the next nemesis. A moment before she took action,the comic bubble would read: Don't make metake off my earrings. Hearing this, I thought ofJohn Henry, steel-driving man, whose hammerand superhuman strength left him dead, buriedin the sand, and of enslaved women who, pregnant,picked as much cotton as any man, who pregnantby the same man who said he owned her—who, it mustbe said raped her again, again—the same man, or someonelike him who after the pain of labor demanded she returnto the fields, and after the pain of labor sold their child away.And it may seem unlikely, but I thought of my mother,twin at each breast, how her ached body became a typeof machine, and of the broth she cooked to fight offcolds. By now can you tell I'm tired of fighting?I envy the ordinary woman whose earrings are earrings.She removes them so as not to scratch her lover's face.
Copyright © 2021 by Ama Codjoe.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Ama Codjoe is the author of Blood of the Air (Northwestern University Press, 2020), winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize, and Bluest Nude, forthcoming in 2022 by Milkweed Press. Among other honors, she has received a 2017 Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship. She lives in New York City and works in social justice and the arts.
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