I am followed by ghosts who dance in my footsteps. They strike matches against my ribs, yank at my tongue, and wield my spine like a truncheon. I can see their footprints all around me, left decades or centuries past, clots of blood and tears and claw marks on this manifold path.
She, who was locked away for throwing a chair. She, who howled screams that tore apart the night. She, who exhaled words and inhaled murky water, drowning in the silt. And she, who was done being pillaged and went up in flames, a paper doll consumed by sparks. I am inhabited by this lineage of lunacy, by these bevel-edged women who were desperate to gleam in the darkness before the ashes were thrown.
We know you, they say, we know this, they say. There won’t be room for you here, the female embodied and all its attenuating diagnoses – hysteric, mal-adaptive, leather-mouthed. We remember the cure – locked away, cannibalized, pathologized, and plundered.
And now we will tell you the remedy – honor the ancestral flood of Woman, wretched and bound. Rend your sheets and rage at the chorus; look into our cinder-block eyes and weep. Sharpen your teeth on our words and bite through the chains, or through your ankle, if you must, and learn to run without looking back. We will haunt your footsteps and flood your veins; and you will drink from our font and thirst.