How to Be a Woman in a Man’s Idea

A powerful poem from Heather Dorn, current director of the Binghamton Poetry Project and the creator of Sappho’s Circle, a women’s poetry group. She has been invaluable to me as an emerging poet. Congratulations, Heather!

Slink Chunk Press

by Heather Dorn

I fall down the stairs like a rag doll

again and again when I’m four.

The hat rack breaks my body’s tumble

and I thump to a stop. Nobody ever

moves that hat rack, maybe worried

I’d crack headfirst into the wall instead.

Better to be impaled. There is something

slippery about being four and next to the steps

in my house. There is something

that still pushes me over the edge

of that first step now. I have seen how

this is inherited. I watched my brother

bang his three year old head into

concrete over and over again. He is too

sturdy to fall down the stairs and has to

break himself another way instead. I see

my mother’s face, like blue ink spilled

on her eyes. She did not fall, whatever

she says. I watch my father’s fist raise

above her, gripped, as if…

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