I didn’t ask to learn benevolence
towards my enemies. I said teach me
to be a blade. And I’ll teach you
about being female; let me tell you
about being tracked—
how he twitches, leans in, imbues
an entire climate around you.
How on some days, you feel his eyes
in the middle-distance clasp onto you —
or think you do, and soon
you understand you could slip through
the fingers of the world if he wished you to.
He makes sure you know
he’s seen you at the bus stop,
the laundromat and grocery.
You aspire to fade into the fray,
to be the fish thrown back, to practice
until perfect a perfect ordinariness
that could deter him one more day.
You study the art of keepaway,
learn to stay just out of reach,
make your nights into foxholes.
A cop says he can arrest
if the stalker acts, but waiting is acting
and so is staging and settling in
for a woman’s undoing.
Let me tell you about being female,
about the rage pent up in a folded blade,
an almost imperceptible itch
between sock and shoe.
Sarah Giragosian is the author of the poetry collections Queer Fish, a winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize (Dream Horse Press, 2017) and The Death Spiral (Black Lawrence Press, forthcoming). Her poems have recently appeared in such journals as Ecotone, The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tin House, among others.