Woman | Body | Tongue
On the day that I was born, someone looked between my legs. Someone said “girl.” I know this. I was born to be a woman. I was born to know what women know. And I was born to have a serpent tongue: split.
I walk the inbetween. With one body, I straddle the gap, walk the divide. I struggle to keep the body whole.
I was raised to wield a cautious tongue, to speak quiet. This is not a function of volume. It is a function of impact. Watch your tongue, they said. Shhhh, be quiet, girl, they said. Don’t be disruptive. Play nice.
I laugh now. I know now. This tongue is my greatest weapon. Their impositions of silence split my tongue. What once was one is now made many.
I am a woman of one body. I am a woman of many tongues. Each language, each tongue, each inhabits one.
This woman body is home. In it I speak many languages – many englishes, and others besides. Each language belongs to me, is fluid spilling from me. Mine is a body of wells and springs. This knowledge of one body runs deep.
I inhabit each language as I inhabit the world.
I taste the world with my serpent tongue.
Each tongue wakes in a different world – the scholar’s tongue, the poet’s tongue, the magician’s tongue, the lover’s tongue, the woman’s tongue. That woman tongue is the most dangerous thing.
Sometimes the tongue of one world spills, crosses over into another. I wonder if this body is enough to bridge the divide. There is only one thing unifying these languages, these tongues: this one body. A body of knowledge. A body knowing. It used to strain across the gap – no girl could bridge worlds like that. These crossings are the work of a woman.
I was raised to wield a cautious tongue. I was raised to believe I had no weapon. I survived the split. My body, my tongues, they straddle the divide. I speak in tongues across the gap. I taste the edges of what they said was unspeakable. I taste the edges with my many tongues.
What once was one is now many. These tongues, I know, are a dangerous thing.