After Terrance Hayes

is what the boy says
when she states that she
had no desire for children,
his voice thick with self-assured authority
as he peers down at the girl over his glasses,
as her knuckles threaten to break thin skin,
as she thinks of the angle
with which to swing her fist to dislodge teeth, but
all she can do is let out
a rattling laugh to fill the space between them,
an attempt to placate him into believing
that she would be one of those girls,
wide hips swinging in a solemn
mating dance while men like him
take cheek swabs with their tongues;
and it was the first time she recognized
the same desperate vibrato in her own laugh
that she had heard so many times
in the mouths of other girls, their eyes white
like flags in a warzone, bent double, shuddering
under the weight of men who leave familiar tragedies
in their wake – the man at the bar
with the starved stare, the pull
of a stumbling hand towards a cavernous bedroom,
stories of girls picked apart
and never put back together –
and this will not be the last time
a boy will place his hands around her words,
mangling them into something
he finds pleasing, and the girl hopes
she does not grow up another story to warn
the children not to throw rocks at glass egos,
hopes she does not grow up
without a voice to rattle men’s bones.
When she says her name, mouth possessive,
the word sits heavy on her tongue
with the weight of something
that is hers.