woman

You believed you were a woman when the
flare went up, spiking shards of fire
through your diaphragm and into something you thought
maybe was your heart? When your eyes fed
your stomach and your mouth,
bereft,
went dry. Looking had become
an occupation and working woman sounded better than just
working girl.

You played at being woman when the flames
danced down your arms and you found
you could command them to
warm your grasp
and sear your prey

You shied from being woman when you reached
the edges, where the wires bared
possessive teeth, and where you had to
watch for openings:
a gate left unchained;
an angry streak of rust that
crumbled beneath the pressure
of your fingers;
a gap through which to crawl
and come out bleeding

You became a woman when you chose
to turn away, and though your longing
howled in the night, you
struck out for open country in search of
other things you did not know.

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