I Want to Write About the N-Word by Alina Stefanescu






I want to write about nipples even though

no word is safe I write about nipples

because they make me uncomfortable

and the things I cannot touch

with my eyes look good in black ink.

Because black ink is a private part

I can hide behind a white wall and ask

why our nipples turn dark and moody while nursing

and all nipples turn the same shade of brown

but not blushing under exposure as if

color changes the social cue

unembarrassed and maybe fuck you.

I want to know why nipples feel foreign

thus darkened and why it’s dangerous.

I want to admit I’ve never seen the nipples

of a black nursing mother and my world

stays smaller as a result    as a world without

color is a world without changes in nipples

so I speak about nipples for part of the planet

while all other sisters’ nipples remain

obscured from me. Other nipples.

I don’t want to Other nipples. I want

to acknowledge that nursing alters nipples,

the pink/tan/pert learns to undulate

whorls beyond the realm of seashells,

inexplicable curls and I want to write

about nipples like it’s natural

because nipples are natural and I am so much

socialization conditioned to fear the change

in body parts. To cover what grows un-young.

I’m sick and tired seeing the disproportionate appearance of

Anglo/American nipples at the expense of everyotherwoman.

We are sum-one. And yet—I cannot write about nipples because

no other flesh is cut from the same cloth. I can NOT

because they are different but I want to because

they are my mother’s. And I am my mother’s

daughter plus everyotherlivinggirlnipple

writing the shit we shouldn’t say.


Alina Stefanescu is the author of “Objects In Vases” (Anchor & Plume, 2016). She was born in Romania and lives in Alabama with her partner and four small mammals. Her flash fiction, “White Tennis Shoes”, won the 2015 Ryan R. Gibbs Fiction Award. Her poem, “Oscar Dees, No Apologetics Please,” from the chapbook Objects in Vases, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. You can read her syllables in current issues of PoemMemoirStory, Tinge Magazine, Jellyfish Review, The Zodiac Review, Parcel, Change Seven, and others. More online at www.alinastefanescu.com.

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