lye and steel sponge by Meara Maccabee

i was sitting in a class about war and i was the only woman,
which is weird, because the world makes warzones out of women every day.

isn’t this how it’s always been?

we’re born in rainstorms of dish soap, told from the very beginning that
we need to be cleaner,

Saint Kevin kneeling in his hut with his arms outstretched,
guilty guilty guilty
waiting for the blackbird to leave
so we can get up off our knees.

did you know that my mother,
scarred from lye and steel sponge, codeine and injury,
asked my father to marry her and then went to the desert,
stood in front of Elvis in that Vegas chapel with the man she loves
and exchanged vows.
did they exchange vows? i don’t know.
but i do know -- from the polaroids --
that she had fought her entire life to feel this kind of happiness,
this kind of intensity, this kind of truth,
and, yes, this kind of fear.
like men in battle.
like women, in battle.