Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (NSFW—Issue 45, September 2014)

Arielle Greenberg
Two Pastorals

Pastoral: Chat

10:38 AM Eager: are you working?

11:25 AM Eager: sure seems like you’re being a good girl

Daddy’s very proud

11:28 AM me: {serious, scholarly nod}

Eager: good girl

{pat pat}

11:29 AM me: ha, I’m just reeling from how it’s all so fucked up in this perfect, crazy way.

11:30 AM Eager: i just thought of that too

11:31 AM me: I’m writing this piece about Second Wave feminism and escaping from the hetero-axis where women are seen as powerless girls...and then I check in and you’re patting me on the head and calling me a good girl. WILD.

Eager: and you can own it all

me: I am formulating ideas about it for a poem.

Eager: perfect!

11:32 AM me: yes, but that’s the big question for me--how to own it within what is still a completely misogynist system, a rape culture? is it possible to genuinely own it? I want to believe it is...

Eager: well, it does become challenging when you take it in the context of the whole culture, since there are so many people who don’t or won’t understand it in the same way

me: it seems like maybe a game of pretend for now, a game of faking it till you make it.

11:33 AM Eager: but there are pockets of enlightenment where it feels safe and understood

me: Because none of this exists in a vacuum. The good girl story comes from somewhere, and the place it comes from is strewn with misogyny.

Eager: stupid men, always ruining everything

me: I think more than “safe” or “understood” I want to find the place where it feels “authentic” and “radical.”

11:34 AM Eager: gotcha

okay, get back to work


me: ooof!

11:35 AM I’m going to put this whole chat in the poem, I think.

I will not hear that name you want to say to me

I will take that name and bend it backwards

and wear it as a fascinator

I will turn this corner

in my thrift store high heels

I will look at you

I will look at myself with my own gold eyes

and know what I know

all those songs about some girl getting off her knees

I won’t be on my knees for you, she sings

But I will

I will be on my knees

my objectification is my spirit animal: foxy

I take the money out of my soft verdant wallet

I buy you a boiled wool coat

I buy us a night in a lux hotel

I buy us a night in an off-the-grid cabin

but the whole time I’m hoping you’ll grab me

throw me down

while I tell you that you own me

this kind of power is in the photograph and the throat

the lipstick and the spank

the collar and the slow gait

this kind of power is in James Bond

and the copies of Playboy my dad kept

inside the hollow behind a concrete end table

in the formal living room unused except for company

and which I found and looked at and loved

because their wide eyes told me you have this power

because I read it all as choice

Pastoral: I Have to Leave the Country

In order to have the sex I want

I have to leave the country

and go to the city

where the animals are


standing in the elevator machine in the hotel by the harbor full of gulls and ships

my bones and skin just in front of your bones and skin

we are two animals inside a bright metal box

so when you press your hard ape-side inside its soft layers of clothing

against my slippery ape-side inside its soft layers of clothing

I immediately back up into you, without thinking, and rub and slide along you as we ascend

through the hotel by the harbor full of lights and animals

to pace down the carpeted hallways to our corner room

where we turn off all the electricity

and build a little fire on the nightstand

so I can crouch on all fours

and scream into something dark and pure and out-of-doors