Featured Writer for October

Esther Spurrill-Jones

Esther sent an email to me to become a writer for A Cornered Gurl because she had a piece in her drafts that she thought would be perfect for the publication and it was–it is. I have been reading Esther for at least a year now and with every post shared to Medium, she shows that her talents reach far and wide. She can do fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and micropoetry.

I am sure these are probably just a few of her actual literary abilities. When she’s writing, you’re reading. It’s hard not to. And for this, she is the featured writer for October. And now, the piece:


To The Man Who Told Me I Wasn’t a Feminist

“You can’t be a feminist. Feminists are anti-Christian and anti-men. That’s not you at all.”

Image created by author

I was in university. I must have been about 21 or 22. I was attending a campus Christian group/club when the topic turned to feminism. I mentioned that I considered myself a feminist. You and the woman who was leading the group turned shocked looks toward me and proceeded to tell me that a “real” Christian cannot also be a feminist. It was mostly you talking, but the woman nodded along and agree with everything you said.

To be honest, I don’t remember much of your reasoning because I wasn’t really listening. I was so shocked at what you were saying that I just stared at you with my mouth open. I probably looked like a fish. You probably thought you taught me something. You did.

I grew up in the church, so you might be surprised that I hadn’t encountered such blatant religious sexism before. I suppose I had, but it was mostly coming from old people like my dad (you were about my age), and never from women (at least not in my hearing). I was baffled that any person my age could think that a Christian couldn’t be a feminist — at least while continuing to be a Christian — and horrified that a woman could agree. I guess I had lived a sheltered life.

I had known you for a few months at this point, and I had a respect for you as the leader of the group. I lost all respect for you.

You taught me that I couldn’t trust a man just because he is a leader. You taught me that I couldn’t trust a woman just because she is a woman. You taught me that some young, university-educated Christians still believe in stupid, outdated sexist ideas. You made me even more determined to call myself a feminist.

You see, your mistake was in thinking that just because I’m a woman that I will listen to you. I don’t like to do what I’m told to do or be what I’m told to be. Like my Biblical namesake, Queen Esther, I will walk into the king’s court uninvited and ask for justice for my people. “And if I perish, I perish.”


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Taking A Break

A One-Lined Poem

Mirko Krizan via Unsplash

Attraction:
what lures us to the enigmatic — the beautiful ones crowned in tattoos, lickable lips sipping iced cream, boldly exclaiming, “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,” and I silently agree.


Originally published in Chalkboard on Medium.

Featured Writer for September

Nardine

A blossoming truth-teller of Egyptian descent was recently added to A Cornered Gurl. She took a bit of a break away from Medium and she was sorely missed. I remember hosting Nardine in This Glorious Mess, also via Medium, and since her return, the strength of her words are at an all-time high. Nardine writes from the heart and there is no shame in it. What she brings to A Cornered Gurl is soul-speak, the depth of the heart, and I am so happy that she is there. And now, the work that gained her September’s feature:


the girl in the frame

a poem

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

Late nights, red wine (I drank it hoping to be someone else)

Tall boy, sweet words (I felt his tongue against my lips and hoped he didn’t taste the insecurity)

Small house, big crowd (I wished someone would see me the way I saw myself)

(I didn’t want to go home because it was late and I’d face my mother, sitting under the kitchen light, looking afraid to find something on me she didn’t want to see)

(Sometimes I dream that the space between my body and the world has no shape and I bleed into everything, like a girl with no outlines)

On the kitchen wall of my parents’ house

is a drawing I did when I was ten years old.

The girl is sliced in half;

on one side, she smiles,

on the other, she frowns.

(How can I merge the two women inside of me? One who is daring and one who is submissive? One who is fearless and one who is afraid?)

 

I ask my mother,

why do you keep that drawing

of the broken girl up on the wall?

And she looks at me, alarmed, and says,

why in the world you would think the girl is broken?


Copyright©2019—N


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium

But Will She Stay?

Or, Will He Go?

MUSICAL SELECTION|EMOTIONS: DON’T ASK MY NEIGHBOR

I did not budge. I was not going to call the cops because I have a fear of them now that cannot be described. I do not feel protected. I do not feel served. I would rather not have my mom and best friend collect my body from a holding cell at my local precinct because my conscience would not shut up.

But I listened . . .

I was having a relaxing bath, soaking my aching leg, while reading and it happened . . . A door slammed. Her trembling voice followed. His shortly after. It shook me awake from my jump into another world and I instantly knew what this was — an argument. My walls shook from the second slam of a door.

The bathroom walls are paper-thin. I silently prayed, “Lord, whatever is about to happen, please don’t let it be something that will make me call the cops.” My new neighbors found themselves in a twisted situation and this place is not kind to those disturbing the peace, but while things played out, it sounded as though they may have needed this to happen.

That may be an ass-backward statement, but what I mean by this is perhaps this thing could be the defining factor of their relationship — of if there will be a relationship after tonight. A woman’s voice when rattled can break you. If you have any peace in your spirit, you will feel every word falling from her lips.

“IF YOU WANT TO BE WITH ME, THEN SHOW ME!”

She was cry-shouting at him and she said this over and over again and I felt my heartbeat quicken and my hands began to shake. I had not been around a couple arguing in years and this stirred up a fear in me that I forgot existed. I wanted to cry, I felt like I was about to cry, but his voice powered through . . .

“I MOVED HERE FOR YOU!”

She did not back down. She yelled her testimony to him. She made her reasons known and the back and forth of it came right back to her original statement, “If you want to be with me, then show me!” He said something that made me cringe — that made me want to jump out of the tub, throw on some clothes, grab my steel bat, and call my cousins to let them know what was up, but I remembered who I am. It still did not stop me from tearing me apart when he said, “I AM A GROWN MOTHERFUCKIN’ MAN. I DON’T HAVE TO SHOW YOU SHIT.”

There was quiet. It became too quiet. The kind of quiet that shows itself right before the main event and I thought, “I have to make sure he does not hit her, that she does not attack him.” I had to wait it out. I know what a blow to the head sounds like by a closed fist. Or, how a back cracks when it’s slammed against a wall. I grew up in a home where violence was the frontrunner for many years until it was not. I had to be sure they did not physically hurt one another. But verbally . . .

The damage had been done.

It passed, like a storm . . . Like a kidney stone punching through one’s bowels shoving its way into the light. A mellow tune played, what sounded like another door gently closing introduced itself, and the night began to feel safe again.

I wonder if she will gather her things, relocate to wherever she ran away from, or if she will stay loyal — glued to his side. I wonder if he will step it up. If he will try harder, if he even needs to. I wonder if they know just how thin the bathroom walls are and how afraid I had gotten hoping and praying that I did not have to call the cops.

There will be that awkward meeting when we pass each other in the morning. That brief, knowing smile or head nod. No one will mention a thing and we will go on like it never happened. But I will look at her and I will know that her heart is breaking.

I will silently tell her that mine is too.


Originally published via Medium.

remora

Musical Selection: Cameo|Single Life

An Experiment

she is a budding blossom,
purple sunset on a red evening.
she sways her body to an unknown beat,
our heads bobbing to sounds we do not hear.

I sit back and watch her fearless eyes
oppose every caller who comes to steal her heart.
we are her audience,
she is giving us a show.
we’ve paid in advance and expect
an encore.

her hips circle the air,
sweet lips covered in blue,
cherry birthmark kissing crows feet — 
she’s wearing age confidently,
high-stepping on the moon’s nose,
leaving her mark.

we applaud her efforts,
the goddess falls from her pedestal
only to land near god.
her hands clasped in front of us — 
a plea?
no, she leads the lost to her
lying voice, twists our ankles when we stand,
and bellows beyond the void.

she is an obstacle,
the unclimbable mountain, and
every man’s ‘the one who got away.’
we stare at her, unable to move — 
transfixed
frozen
spellbound.


Originally published in The Junction via Medium.