Literary Magazine

We Take On | Mel Lewis


we take on this work

knowing the model of lack

there is only so much justice to go around

as if there was only so much skin to touch

only so much breath to catch

only so much love learning to be done

we are undone


How many keys can we make for the lock

The cello between our thighs

our sticks are strung tight

soft fibers held together

sing against the solid supple wood

black velvet concert gowns

draped in bundles between our legs

we are in concert


How many teeth hold together your zipper


Quick fuck, quick fuck, and not so quick

again, again

our work needs more time, for caretaking

for cultivation

we desire you comrade

we give our invitation

come into the challenge

make ourselves know each other

we are in the work


How many threads hold the silk scarf to my pulse


Something inside of us yearns

to try on heels


and buy then

then give in

to the desire for solidarity

to wear them with stockings pinned to our garters


Some things fit and then don’t fit


We are many more women at once than the

mistaken misogyny we lace into sometimes

and tear lace from sometimes

we slide forward in our shoes

we need less room between us


We will not know this

until we try everything on

Dr. Mel Michelle Lewis is an Assistant Professor and Program Director of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Africana Studies in the Center for Geographies of Justice and Cultures at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Lewis will join the Saint Mary’s College of California community as an Associate Professor and Program Director of Ethnic Studies in Oakland, CA in the fall of 2017. Dr. Lewis completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and holds an M.S. in Women and Gender Studies with a Public Policy concentration from Towson University. Originally from Bayou La Batre, on the Alabama Gulf Coast, Dr. Lewis describes herself as a Black feminist queer studies interdisciplinary scholar working at the nexus of intersectional queer critical race studies and pedagogies of social justice praxis. Her research publications and course offerings reflect this positioning. Her current book project, Femme Query: Pedagogy, Pleasure, and Queer of Color Possibility, engages social justice educators, activists, cultural workers, and artists who articulate the power and possibility of femme pedagogies of liberatory praxis.