What Rough Beast | Poem for September 5, 2017

Liz Ahl
Bodies of Evidence

National security advisor H.R. McMaster showed President Trump a black-and-white 1972 photo of Afghan women in miniskirts in an effort to persuade him to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
—News item, August 2017

Again, they make their case with our bodies,
on our bodies, through our bodies.

Again they make promises with our bodies,
to our bodies, a thousand years now.

Again they make evidence of our bared legs—
this time our legs prove the existence of freedom;

other times our bodies are evidence offered to justify
their civilizing torture chambers, their liberating

holocausts, their death by a thousand cuts
by a thousand ways a woman’s body is not hers—

evidence that they couldn’t have raped us, not
when we were showing them those legs—

It’s true our bodies are made of history, our bodies
make history, they make history upon our bodies

which are screens, which are machines they point
in different directions, hold at different angles to the light,

but which—like history— they still cannot
fully comprehend or command.


Liz Ahl is the author of Home Economics (Seven Kitchens Press, 2016); Talking About the Weather (Seven Kitchens, 2012, “Summer Kitchen” series); Luck (Pecan Grove, 2010), winner of the New Hampshire Literary Awards “Reader’s Choice” in Poetry Award in 2011; and A Thirst That’s Partly Mine, winner of the 2008 Slapering Hol Press chapbook contest. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Able Muse, Measure, Cutthroat, and Rappahannock Review. Liz has been awarded residencies at Jentel, Playa, The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and The Vermont Studio Center. She lives in New Hampshire.

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