sporklet 13
Threa Almontaser

Hunting Girliness

  المرة مرة و إن تنمرت


My girliness is the size of a Cerberus.

I unchain it out my body, serpent tail tombing


a Mercedes, someone’s Scissorhand 

shrubs, trio-headed howls loudening 


the clean suburb. It is not tasteful 

to fuck with the Tooth Fairy, baby teeth planted 


in the oleanders. To beat up boys 

at the park, make one my wife 


in a white dress when we play marriage. 

My aunties crammed me with a mute troubadour 


& a lame-folded fawn since birth. 

Tell me why there is something else 


powering inside, trying to get out, pummeling 

my skin purple. Tell me, when can I stop barbing 


my headscarves, lining my lashes 

with spears? I learn to love my body 


by playing dead: legs man-spreading, droop-

lipped for vultures to dine on my basking belly, 


wattle of female hanging from their beaks, 

& it’s the only time I lie still. My girliness 


is a whistle uphill, & my mother is too far 

down to hear it. She says, Stop being reckless. 


I say, Truth is, I quit being cautious 

in third grade when the towers fell 


&, later, wore the city’s hatred as hijab. 

I believe my baby breasts are reckless, so I tape 


them down. Loop training bras to ceiling 

fans. Stay hairy. She pulls out her prayer mat, 


enlists God to drag a sharp nail across 

my jaw as I sleep,  shave my girl-beard off. 


So I carry copper-heads into the kitchen 

as compensation, tails whipping raw 


slaps on my chest. Their fangs bite air 

& I bite back until I creak when I talk. 


She beheads them with a meat knife 

then beats me blue, & I take everything 


giggling. We all choose how to fill 

the lingering lack inside us: I lace bitch-loud 


boots to the knees. Scab soft skin 

on asphalt. Peel the grit whenever 


my blood hardens. I am at war. I go out 

to hunt girliness. Find her crouched, camouflaged 


like a fugitive between the forsythias. 

I load my brother’s bb gun, ignore


her old insistence, begging herself pink. 

There was never a day I claimed those flowers–—


open-mouthed sacrifice, blush-wrecked 

boon–—or any hound that heeled. 


Threa Almontaser is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, THE WILD FOX OF YEMEN (Graywolf Press, 2021) selected by Harryette Mullen for the 2020 Walt Whitman Award from The Academy of American Poets, and a finalist for the 2020 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize. She teaches English to immigrants and refugees in Raleigh and is a Fulbright candidate for the 2021 academic year. She is at work on her first novel. For more, please visit threawrites.com.