Women, Affronted


By Andi Sauer

My mother told me
never fall in love with a man who carries rain above his head;
who holds his body like there’s a gun in his pocket
who crushes cigarettes under his toes just as you approach
who kills ants simply because they exist below his feet―
she said,
this man will paint clouds above his head
in the hopes that there will always be someone waiting
with an umbrella
don’t shelter him as though he deserves it
abandon him awestruck at his door
because the man who holds onto shadow willingly
has weapons to hide.

My grandmother said
never fall for a man with thunder behind his eyes;
who professes not to enjoy anything but you
who has never learned to cook
who appears suddenly and uninvited―
no matter how sweet the looks that come in flashes
no matter how gentle his hand as he lifts you up,
because he is saving his strength
she said,
for the stomping on the stairs
for the shattering of countless bottles
for the fists on the counter, so
don’t walk in when he offers you his door
because the man who holds rolling clouds in his skull
must have quite the supply of rain.

My aunt told me
never fall for a man with icy hands;
who hides himself away in books
who has a minimum daily word count
who can throw frost across your skin with one fingertip―
she said,
he’ll sound intelligent as he quotes his poetry
and he’ll smell like leather and ink
but he’ll hang you up like a gong;
only come close when he cares to make you roar
so leave his lips unkissed at his door
because a snowman can offer no refuge
from the cold.

I say
the sun cloaked man has more hiding places;
he whose mind is occupied by what he’ll never have,
who would throw himself from planets just to feel the pressure change
who burns himself for his sins
until there’s nothing left to love―
though he’ll bleed out for you, he promises,
if the right time ever comes
I say
sunshine is a nice filter for an ugly picture
banter is a facade for something deeper
no matter how safe the surface may be; so
don’t lean against his door to talk
for even a moment longer
because the man who holds sunshine in his palms
is only holding fire.

I wrote this poem in response to learning, as I got older, more and more about the abusive relationships in which many of the women on my mother’s side of my family were engaged at various periods in their lives. It comes from a feeling of hopelessness about ever finding a ‘good man’ that I’ve felt for a lot of my adolescence and young adulthood, and that comes from my knowledge of the horrible experiences many of the women in my family have had. I hope you enjoy the methods I chose in attempting to tell these stories.

Andi Sauer is a junior at Hunter College double-majoring in English and Women’s and Gender Studies and minoring in Logic. Andi also has an upcoming project! See below for more info:

My name is Andi Sauer, and I, along with Skylar Back and Hira Khan are the producers of Unlabeled Part Two. We are undergraduate students at Hunter College and we are working with the Women and Gender Studies department at Hunter. We are looking for people who might be interested in participating in a series of themed workshops which will focus on exploring different identities. Tentatively, we are planning on holding one workshop focusing on race, culture and religion; one on gender and sexual orientation; and one on body image, mental health and class. These workshops will seek to encourage students to open up about their identities and personal experiences, and will culminate in a storytelling show which will feature students’ original stories and premiere on YouTube sometime in the spring semester. Below you can find a link to a form where you can declare your interest in participating in this project. https://forms.gle/pLpE8Srec4h45wUN7

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