Unholy Women

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 But of course these poems are

about men,

          which we become by defining how
we are not women

                                          so becoming

a shadow devouring the light to find the limits

          which is what Richard Pryor would have told Joan of Arc
in a joke funnier for being sexist

                     “It’s a man thang.”

And of course there is God

                     and its problematic relationship to light

not to mention the question
                                          of permission

                                Who builds the box, the shape?

It makes sense that Jesus, the new man 2,000 years ago

          was a carpenter.

You need that craft, the precision of measurement

                     angles of angels

who incidentally are never women.

          Just ask the Romans, who called them Angelo, Angelus

                     never Angela—

                     that lie was coined by a dissident nun hiding
her feminism under the cover of rapture


                     is it enough to announce yourself?
To beat your chest in contrition calling

          Mea culpa! Mea culpa?

Guilt can never be enough
          Mere intent—where is its purpose?

                     Yet there are no answers

there are only lines that disappear

          into horizons that girder us with safety

                     just as there is no way to end this poem.

~ Chris Abani

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