The barista calls me ma’am
because I am makeupless—the pink
of my Polish skin and the South’s
sun spots pocking my cheeks—
and my wide hips are in yoga pants
on a Wednesday, mid-morning.
I easily ask about milk alternatives
because I have learned
the language of passing
for calm and unconcerned
I keep signing petitions
online with an email address,
not with the pressure
of my name.
I try to count the women
who’ve shared their prescriptions—
turn off the news. Do not think
outside yourself for a while.
I can hear the echo of fainting
couches and yellow wallpaper.
All day, all night
the body intervenes.
I keep holding guilt
in my mouth, regardless.
No one wants to be Atlas,
but we all want
Poet Hannah Baggott received her MFA from Oregon State University. She is interested in medical humanities, the body, the American South, and pop culture. Her work can be found or forthcoming in Bellevue Literary Review, Passages North, Ninth Letter, HOBART, [PANK], Calyx Journal, The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, and other journals. She lives in North Carolina, where she is a Lecturer of Composition at UNC Pembroke.
3 thoughts on “Atlas As Woman”
Thanks so much, Mary & Andrea! I get a little obsessed with myths & Gilman… and the idea of the “rest cure.”
These lines: “I can hear the echo of fainting / couches and yellow wallpaper.”
This poem, to me, distills a tension between the news cycle and a tension between wanting to opt out. It’s difficult to know how to contribute or to help in one discreet way without taking on the entire world.
Thanks, Hannah! I love reading your work.
Indeed and agreed, Mary — and also, a lovely nod to Charlotte Perkins Gilman!