“And the ship, the black freighter,
disappears out to sea, and on it is me.”
Wetlands become one with the rising gulf
as oil rigs drink the earth’s secret juices
and phallic man-made things do other rapey things
to things to which we have ascribed yonic features
and so forth in a pastiche of sexes assigned
to things that never asked not to be sexless.
Does Mother Earth apologize when she
retaliates, swallowing swamp towns
and eating away at the foundations
of coastal cities, as my mother made
my sister and me apologize to our
abuser if ever we fought back?
If a drop of water fell
for each time I apologized for no reason
(besides that I grew up Baptist, believed
that God-on-Earth was tortured so God-up-There
would forgive me for being what He made me),
I’d sail across a sea of sorries,
beg mercy for reaching the shore,
and fall into the arms of the first
brute to excuse me for loving him.
Once, a middle-aged sorceress told me I’d never find love
unless I wrote an apology to the divine masculine for always
expecting the worst of him, and I told her, honey, not until he
writes me one for always proving me right. Once, a friend
told me that apologizing was my most feminine trait, as if
I weren’t cooking dinner in heels and a backless dress, as if
femininity were skin I’d like to shed, and I said I apologized
for all men who wouldn’t do the same, except, no, how
could I apologize for something I’d been assigned—
male, boy, man, him—but never really been?
If Mother Earth covers her face
in a veil of liquid blue shame
for what we’ve done to her
then I will not be sorry
it was her language,
not his, I learned.