A Space for Writers of the World
Listen to Casandra read this piece
Mama says, never let a man hit you. Never let one bruise you purple or crack your ribs like you are a wishbone. Never let him snap you in half, until your cryin in the street for help. Mama says, there will be none of that for you. I’ll teach you how to poison a man before I let that happen.
When you are older, mama says, I will tell you the rest of this story. For now all you need to know is this. Once there was a woman, who was a little girl, just like you, but she dreams everyday about escaping her daddy’s house. It’s a dark house, not like ours. A house where all the kids run to hide when their daddy comes home. That’s all I will say about that, except as this girl gets older, she tells herself that there’s got to be better places. And when this girl is not quite a woman, she thinks she sees love in a man who looks nothin like her daddy. He’s wiry and white, hair the color of dried out straw. Daddy don’t like it when he comes around. She has to sneak out windows and back doors, but that don’t matter when you think you are in love, but really you are in love with the idea of love and most of all with escaping.
One day the doctor tells her she’s gonna have a baby. And even though she don’t know what she’s gonna do with a baby, she lets it grow big within her and waits and waits. But she doesn’t let her daddy kick her out of his house. She leaves before he can say anything to her. And she is a little too proud of that fact, that her man says she can live with him. Her man is good at making all kinds of sweet sounding promises, that she lets herself believe in even when he grabs her arms a little too roughly, so that she can’t help but tear up as he yells at her not to.
Mama says, back then this woman was young and dumb. Back then, she don’t know much. She says, that girl-woman don’t exist anymore. She’s a buried bone, someone’s half wish, a dried out seed that a hot gust of wind up and blew away. Mama says, that even a young girl like that can learn to say, enough is enough. Even if you don’t say it outright because you’re being kicked down, and don’t remember how to speak. But you still have enough sense to call for help. And after that, that woman don’t call that man, her man anymore, so when her daughter is born she don’t have to call that man, daddy. Mama says, I tell you these stories so you know, never let a man hit you.
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Casandra was raised in Southern California’s Inland Empire and is Chicana, Cahuilla, Luiseno and Tongva. She has an MFA from the University of New Mexico and has been selected as the 2013 Indigenous Writer in Residence at the School of Advanced Research. Casandra has also been selected for a residency with the Sante Fe Art Institute, is an alumna of VONA and a member of PoetrIE. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, High Desert Journal,Acentos Review, Casesura, McNeese Review, Unmanned Press and Casandra writes because… You can follow her on Twitter @casandramlopez.