My students bend intently
over their desks, the test questions swirling
around their heads, the answers gathering
or slipping away.
I have taken them to the wall
in The Handmaid's Tale
where Margaret Atwood hung the bleeding bodies.
I have taken them there and forced them to touch
the red-brown O's of mouths now silenced.
I have held in front of them the photos
of the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory girls
flying through the air, unnecessary angels.
I have held the photos before them
like a Veronica holding the sweated and bloody
face of the Christ printed on her scarf.
Touch these wings, I demand.
Touch the concrete before these women
smash against it like bags of groceries
you'd spill going into your house--
they are full of life, not bread and wine.
My students bend over their tests
intent on making the right responses.
It is required to test them this way
but I would rather send them
in the patrol car to the frat house
with directions to write up the rape.
Touch the semen up a co-ed's ass.
How many kinds of semen are there?
And let us count the ways it gets around.
Here, I say, here is a wound
to compare and contrast to no other.
Here is a little piece of culture
on a swab. Look under the microscope
and see this culture growing
like a scream in this dish.
This red mouth, this is culture's test
of manhood, of womanhood,
and this outrage I force into essay form
so you can write out
what we really know.
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