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how to make her stay

By Shauna M. Morgan

Emotional abuse can be more insidious and have longer lasting effects than physical abuse.

tell her the new fragrance is nice but she doesn’t have to bathe in it
          assert that sarcasm is a talent

tell her that her salwar or lappa is weird and take her to the mall for khakis
          do so until she stops wearing that colorful garb

track her purchases so you can acknowledge the unseen item when she comes home
          give her an allowance and tell her it’s for the future

make sure you don’t tell her any family news that comes to you first
          pretend as if you did mention it

push away her hugs and kisses and put off sex for weeks or months
          tell her it’s her fault

refuse to let her mother in the birthing room
           say it’s because you love her and want to share the moment privately

interrogate everything she does, especially with the newborns
           disregard when she notes that you never read the baby books

move to the guestroom and be silent when you have a falling out
           as with sex, keep this up for weeks

be gregarious in public, make her and other people laugh
           occasionally at her expense

say you don’t know how you won’t put a bullet in your head
           if she decides to leave




Listen as Shauna Melissa Morgan reads "how to make her stay."

Added: Tuesday, December 11, 2018  /  Used with permission.
Shauna M. Morgan
Photo by Patrick J. Mitchell.

The author of Fear of Dogs & Other Animals, Shauna M. Morgan is a poet and scholar who teaches creative writing and literature of the African Diaspora at Howard University in Washington, DC. Her current research focuses on representations of womanhood and Neo-anticolonialism in 21st-century literature. Her poems were shortlisted for the 2011 Small Axe Literary Prize and won Interviewing the Caribbean's 2016 Catherine James Palmer Prize. She has published poetry in A Gathering Together, ProudFlesh: New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics & Consciousness, pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture, The Pierian, Illuminations, and elsewhere. Her critical work has appeared in the CLA Journal, ARIEL, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, and South Atlantic Review.

Other poems by this author