When did you learn that your body
is just another machine for you to work,
how a man’s knuckles churn against your cheek
like gears, how to operate the pulley of your torso
when he’s mounting you, how woman after woman
lays her body down on his assembly line,
how something in your eyes clocks out?
I can’t remember when it happened for me—
I must have been just a child when men’s stares
started to crawl into me like an infestation.
I still jolt in the night, trying to shake the memory
of men’s palms out of my hair like a nest of hornets,
plucking stingers from my thighs.
I’ve never touched one of the fliers
with your missing faces, but I feel the grainy ink
on my fingers as I flip through another magazine
that promises the secret to making men love you.
It says our sex is nectar-sweet, says we need
to pluck the porcupine quills from our tongues
when we speak to them, when we kiss them, learn
how to shed our clothes like an engine purring.
They need to feel us shiver.
Even when they wrap their hands around our necks,
keep humming—men need us sleek, metallic,
not a thought in our heads, easy
to junk when we rust, when we break.