Valérie Filloux

This house is full of women.
Hiking mountains of stairwells, hands banned from the railing, eyes forward;
she takes place at every juncture of the glass.
A moment you do not deserve to hear, a moment that hears too much, a fraction that stares up at eyes that slide over faces and make them catch against sharp edges-
This house is full of women.
Whittling her craft to a fine enough point that she can defend herself with it, speak out from behind the spearhead, be listened to with the help of glinting metal.
They pull their vocal chords apart like putty while she snaps them into place
But he gets praise for the freedom and she gets points off for infraction, for her coldness, quick tongue-
This house is full of women.
Standing in front of six white men
who look down from red velvet seats
straight down her throat, to the meat of her vocal chords
giggle at the pink of her flesh, poke and prod at what it can offer, how flexible it can be in their hands as they drag their palms across it,
yell when it twitches, cry when it flinches,
all the while
she sharpens her canines with a nail file
to protect the ones that come after her.
This house is full of women.
She is here long after you are gone-
watching from the windows of practice rooms as they leave
bidding the wind shut the door behind them.
She turns back to the piano
singing the works of her sisters who have only felt their presence in the spaces between words,
underlined in the absences.
This house is full of women
who hear his mold-covered anecdotes,
his gilded debonair with hand-me-down flair,
his worship of the altar over the spirit,
his deeply rooted, earthbound
hatred of
this house full of Women
whom he fears
are strong enough to flip their music stands in his temple,
look him in the eye,
and ask him why he wishes to trade in hatred when he knows
he was brought to life by
and stands on the backs of
this house full of women.

Valérie Filloux is a senior pursuing a dual-degree in Voice and Opera and Communication Studies at Northwestern University. She is from the Bay Area, California, and has kept a writing journal since the age of 14. She is honored to be featured in Helicon!