Cover Photo: Detail of Henryk Siemiradzki's 'Christ with Martha and Maria'
Detail of Henryk Siemiradzki's 'Christ with Martha and Maria'

On Martha and the Harm in “Perfect” Womanhood

In the etiquette class, everything had a proper place and use—even me.

seemed

no one was here

If someone doesn’t see you as fully human because you’re a woman or because you’re not white or because you’re not cis or whatever it might be, chances are that you knowing how to hold a salad fork won’t really change that.

The many etiquette books I read as a child, the seasonally appropriate greetings I draft first in pencil, then in pen, the soup spoons and dessert spoons; none of these will erase the fear, anxiety and longing I feel about my half-way-immigrant, half-way-lady self.

Nina Li Coomes is a Japanese and American writer, currently living in Boston, MA. Her writing has appeared in EATER, The  Collapsar, and  RHINO Poetry among other places. Her debut chapbook haircut poems was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2017.