Anne Champion

Issue #
April 26, 2020

To the Missing Girls of Cuidad Juárez

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.

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