The Grammar Of Gendered Appropriation – Hannah VanderHart

I take things from men how they call

after a woman Mary Mary how they turn

to a colon in their sentences when

they wish to seem direct and honest:

like the wasp’s last sting in my thumb

before I crush it under my sandal’s sole

I have taken these things into my body

and yes I swell yes the process stings

and I grow pink and red by turns but

the wasp cannot live without its sting

after all and after all I imagined it a beetle

or I would not have held it there under

my dress my fingers closing in around it

the stinger hidden and about to sting this

is a lesson about rolling windows down

in the car on the way to the beach what flies

in an open window what happens when you

let yourself be porous to this world like a

sea sponge all the creatures come to live in

some stinging and some chipping away

their horns and front teeth tiny picks others

building by accretion weighing you down

but I say let them in roll all the windows

down be as porous as you can in this time

the honeysuckle in bloom and the thistles

purpling by the road the fox long-nosed

and big-eared on the dunes the spider

running over the couch pillow towards

you and you should let it live but be

open to taking and living as you must live

Hannah VanderHart

Hannah VanderHart lives in Durham, NC. She has her MFA from George Mason University, and is currently at Duke University writing her dissertation on gender and collaboration poetics in the seventeenth century. She has poems and reviews recently published and forthcoming at The McNeese Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Greensboro Review, Poetry Northwest and American Poetry Review. More at:

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