Associate Professor Elizabeth A.I. Powell shares a poem on purity and control
My first real speech rose scented
off of a cake of soap,
molecule congealing in my salivary gland
that held the mellifluous
obscenity I spoke, the words my mother found
horrid, disrespectful, utterances I loved
and let loose, becoming bubbles
floating out my mouth
in punishment, the lather bubbling up
my nasty sentiments:
how I loved the world so hard I hated it.
Things either clean or dirty,
smelled lovely or nasty,
my mother tried to make me say it nicely. I couldn’t.
The lavender tallow, glycerin atoms ascended
from my lips into silencing
my words to God,
which then smelled of Yardley’s,
Lavandula Angustifolia, disappearing until now.
I try to make it pretty. She never said
cleanliness was next to Godliness,
she didn’t believe that. She just liked the scent
of lavender and submission,
hated the words “fuck” and “suck” and “no”.
The molecule of soap a measure that held the grease in my mouth
called bad words. To make what I felt evaporate
into the bourgeoisie submission of my stink
into the parfum and titanium oxide