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September 9, 2019 Poetry

MY SUPERPOWER

Amie Whittemore

MY SUPERPOWER photo

                             in response to a student evaluation for a science fiction class, Fall 2018

Student, it’s true—I prefer women
to lentils, to crossfit classes,
to retirement plan selection, 
leaf-blowers, plastic bags
and roller coasters; it’s also true
I’ll take a female protagonist
over a ham sandwich any day
and that women befriending
robot spiders, sexing up aliens,
and becoming fierce mermaids
congregate on my syllabus. 
So if curating a collection 
of ‘uncomfortable’ texts
is a superpower, I’ll claim it.
Student, do you fear
ground floor apartments
and always deadbolt the door?
Has a man passing you
on the sidewalk asked if he
could eat your pussy? 
I was uncomfortable then
and hope you can see
how reading about women
isn’t quite the same thing. 
If you can’t, I’ve failed
the women I prefer,
their voices curved
by patriarchy to speak
in quiescent registers
when faced with male anger.
Student, every prey animal knows
to survive, requires, sometimes,
to diminish, so yes, when women
spoke firmly in my class
I didn’t tamp their voices.
If it was uncomfortable to see women 
boisterous and emboldened
by—yes, it’s true—feminist texts,
if it made you feel 
I too harshly graded
your mediocre work,
then Student, I am sorry.
I failed you whom I most
wanted to transform, 
if not into a mermaid
or a lover of aliens at least
into someone more capacious—
perhaps we’re both a little wrong.
The discomfort you feel 
not a sign of our failures
but the pang that heralds
a womb-like spaceship, 
an underwater matriarchy,
a nebula unweaving the dark. 

image: Dorothy Chan


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