She started and shot from the pine,
then brilliantly settled in the west field
and sunned herself purple.
I saw myself: twig and rasp, dry
in breath and ammonia smelling.
Women taught me to clean
and then build my own house.
Before men came they whispered,
Know good polished oak.
Learn hammer and Phillips.
Learn socket and rivet. I ran
over rocks and gravel they placed
by hand, leaving burly arguments
to fester the bedrooms. With my best jeans,
a twenty and a shepherd pup, I ran
flushed and shadowed by no one
alone I settled stiff in mouth
with the words women gave me.
“Crow” from Emplumada by Lorna Dee Cervantes, © 1981. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.