First Woman: I. First Woman Katja

First Woman Raped by Another Woman

stone floor and sauna
Everyone who knows
about the taste of beauty is mistaken.
All over the wood
she left her sweat
dripping like blood. Though she was reticent,
what did it matter?
                    Sure they wanted
her, sharp as the wicked
taste of the wood
you breathe. You have to
breathe it. Shed your skin:

you’ll see yourself liquid. As it enters you,
can you resist?
                    You have to: world within
where we are sisters
and our bodies win.

It’s true I knew I’d leave a scar when I
touched her, in the way you all know about. I remember
thinking it would be difficult to disguise, because
of the folds of her neck, how
the creases run naturally, and that most
probably she’d have to pay

for the type of heavy opaque
makeup for blemishes, the kind
that the model—slashed
with razors, her face sliced
by boys sent by her landlord, something about rent
I think—advertises on television at night.

the trial
When she comes to stand
in front of all of you her name
means nothing. Which one she was
is never quite clear. It’s the face
you remember, like the woman you saw
in a movie all about fire, how her eyes
slide like a marble. Though you can’t
navigate the details, she persists
similar in your vision—trees and ministers
never fell as straight, never ate
less, the food refusing
her mouth, perhaps, cold

as the witless dinner on your plate
you feel her gaze over you, at the oddest times—

when you are driving, or when
your chest is briefly naked as you change
after work, into the person you were before.
Brazen, the simple
trips our bodies take.

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February 2002 2River