Woman to Man

By 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)