“The Choicest Parts” by Jhoanna Belfer

Jhoanna Belfer


Can I still say me too if I went willing
into the car, the darkest corner,

crawled eager into the back seat,
laid myself bare on the mattress,

the sheets already twisted
and smelling? Even with my eyes

flung up and wide into the eaves
of the house, the crevices

of the borrowed car,
disembodied even into stars

and sun, indiscriminate moon,
I saw, saw the unswept floor, the dirty

wrappers, the days-old litter
of empty food containers

and drunk-from cups, crusted
with other women’s lips.

But I was taught to offer up
the choicest parts, pass the plate

glistening with meat, say
here, here.

from Poets Respond

[download audio]


Jhoanna Belfer: “I’d just read Rebecca Solnit’s book of essays, Men Explain Things to Me, the week before, and then heard about the Stormy Daniels interview with Anderson Cooper, and then saw this piece on the question of what “entirely consensual” might mean, all the while thinking of my own experiences as a Filipino-American woman whose culture and family values always taught me to put the other person, especially men, before myself and my needs/wants. So I got to thinking about all those questionable, if not outright abusive, moments that happen in a woman’s or young girl’s life that occur in part because of societal or familial conditioning that tells us to be nice, strive to gain others’ good opinion, be pretty/sexy/appealing, on and on, which I just don’t think most men ever think about. Or at least not to the point that they would allow themselves to get into situations where they may be abused or harassed or assaulted.”

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