Silence, inherited

by Ewan Hill
a woman begat1 a woman
and so on for thousands of years until a woman begat
whatever i am:
a question mark with instinct and breasts.
my mom has a scar across her stomach                equator that comes from having a life cut out of you.
like a good woman she hated her body. like a good mother she taught me how.
she taught me laughter as a way to make a man feel bigger.
my voice as a way to make       men       feel       bigger.
and i wonder if anger/fear is hereditary
what i mean is i wonder if granny gave me something sharper than her cheekbones.
i first realized i was a girl when a man told me i was one.
i first realized i was not a girl when a man told me i was one.
i know what a man lying tastes like by now
it’s a kind of anger i know how to swallow
i’m discovering so many kinds of anger these days.
there’s how hypermasculinity boils into a fist, that’s one. there’s yelling and plate-smashing and
door-slamming, that’s another, or maybe just the same, but louder.              the kind of anger that could
pierce your ears and it would hurt                              but you’d make it something pretty.
there’s pretty angry and crying angry and there’s angry that isn’t angry, just afraid.
then there’s quiet anger, open-mouthed and soundless
that sits chalky on the tongue, dissolving bitter until it is small
enough to swallow without choking,            but sometimes it still feels like you’re choking.
the kind you tuck under your pillow at night. that threads keys between your knuckles like maybe it will
keep you safe someday. the kind that knows how to feel unsafe like a good woman, even if you aren’t a
woman anymore. he kind of anger that doesn’t get unlearned.                 you know it’s like riding a bike
or whatever you know it’s like how not to trust a cis man like I’ve only had to learn some lessons once.
it’s the kind of anger i was taught to keep in my womb, to give to my daughter.
the kind of anger you have to  g i v e  birth to.
the kind of anger/legacy that screams when it is born,
before it learns that good girls don’t scream, they swallow.
 1verb, to procreate or generate (offspring), especially of a male parent