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Poetry

Cardinal
by Sara Youngblood Gregory

Elaine Scarry writes, for the person in pain, so incontestably and unnegotiably present is it, that ‘having pain’ may come to be thought of as the most vibrant example of what it is to ‘have certainty,’ while for the other person it is so elusive that ‘hearing about pain’ may exist as the primary model of what it is to have doubt /

Salomé says anyone with a marginalized identity / let’s call them cardinals / any cardinal at all / lives her life tense, under threat / her body seals up that tension because she expects a fight / her whole life is a fight / her wings are brittle from hugging her own body, from snapping out too quick /

The egg inside has never slept through the night / Whatever tension from her mother’s womb and her mother’s mother’s womb is now the cardinal’s womb / Cardinals don’t mean to carry it / it is forced / structural   generational   carnal a carnival, the womb is different from ovaries / or a vagina / or anything certain / The womb is the body she sleeps in  /  the primary model of what it is to have doubt /

When I got hit by that car it took months to learn that god didn’t love me  /  If he loved me he would have killed me  /  there is a window in my ankle bone /  kneel down  /  put your eye to my body /  your lips to my calf she is atrophied /  look closer / and there again is the anger of Patroclus / he is wandering my body / he is tragedy / stray arrow  stray car   stray burial /  Patroclus takes up the mantle or doesn’t /   you tell me   /   I can’t see inside my own womb  I only feel /  shovel striking dirt /

Salomé’s spine broke  three years after her father died / I turn on google maps / turn left on 34th and Salomé goes lost for the whole afternoon /  after the last ding her father punched her in the face /   Salomé is tense   / she’s had both hands operated on, too /  if you’re wondering /

Amy Berkowitz writes, In 1970, a German activist group called the Socialist Patients’ Collective recognized capitalism as the root cause of all illness. To be sick, then, was a political act: a passive resistance against capitalism. The group’s slogan: Turn illness into a weapon. /

Sara Youngblood Gregory (she/they) is a lesbian poet and culture writer. She serves on the board of directors for the lesbian literary and arts journal Sinister Wisdom. Her work has been published or forthcoming in The Rumpus, Tahoma Literary Review, Queen Mobs, and The Adroit Journal.

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