Woman to Man

By Ai 1947–2010 Ai
Lightning hits the roof,   
shoves the knife, darkness,   
deep in the walls.
They bleed light all over us   
and your face, the fan, folds up,   
so I won’t see how afraid   
to be with me you are.
We don’t mix, even in bed,   
where we keep ending up.   
There’s no need to hide it:   
you’re snow, I’m coal,
I’ve got the scars to prove it.   
But open your mouth,
I’ll give you a taste of black   
you won’t forget.
For a while, I’ll let it make you strong,
make your heart lion,
then I’ll take it back.

Ai, “Woman to Man” from Cruelty (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973). Copyright © 1973 by Ai. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Cruelty (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1973)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Ai 1947–2010

Subjects Love, Men & Women, Relationships, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

   Ai

Biography

Ai is a poet noted for her uncompromising poetic vision and bleak dramatic monologues which give voice to marginalized, often poor and abused speakers. Though born Florence Anthony, she legally changed her name to Ai which means “love” in Japanese. She has said that her given name reflects a “scandalous affair my mother had with a Japanese man she met at a streetcar stop” and has no wish to be identified “for all eternity” with . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Men & Women, Relationships, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.