The Anthropologist Looks at Me

 
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Here you have:

the woman.


She others herself

in the mirror

a ritual of scrutiny -

what should be scraped off,

what sticks to the fingers.


She soaks limbs

in cascades of wax,

ripping wraps of herself

through violent snaps,

until it’s all a red swell.


She offers her papers

for glue on her fingers

and fish teeth on feet,

for blood to be redder

and mouth to be wider.


She grows eyes on her back

in the core of the night,

says she should

only walk in a pack.


She tells me it’s all

a job of taking away -

words first and then numbers,

then skin and then guts.

                “You spit in private

                 to be kissed in the sun.”


She swears it’s for

love:

the tribe won’t accept

a human-born woman,

as woman is only

a woman performing.


Woman enough only

when seen as woman,

as woman should be.


In my observation I can confer

what a terrorizing bell

has been put upon her,

prodded and poked

reshaped and restored,

as here you have:

the woman.


Woman who can’t be human

but can only expect

mutilation and hurt.

Disbelieved and ignored

by this odd civilization,

whose women it doesn’t love.

 

Author: Michela Sottura