K. Iver

When my mother’s body said America.

When a police chief stopped our Mercury

to ask her on dates. When her body

said a woman is only a woman

if she’s beautiful and a beautiful woman

cries in her dress when her husband leaves.

She cries all night, all 90 pounds of her,

both thumbs and index fingers failing

to trace the fat her husband referenced 

on her thighs and arms and belly. 

She listens to the rub in Tanya Tucker’s

voice and unties her magenta dress

at the shoulders. Unzips the side

and floats across the room, floats

in place. Even the body has forgotten 

it’s a body. Its bright lipstick 

comes off with grease. The face, 

pinkened by the vanity mirror’s lightbulbs,

says it’s not pretty without the lipstick

but everyone else says my mother looks

like a blonde Debra Winger. Everyone

else says I could too, soon. Now,

the toga-inspired dress in the closet,

I’m close by, wanting to wear it. I’m five

years old and I want the ties

on my shoulders. I ask her. I ask her

again. She hears nothing, so I put it on.

Soon, I’ll have someone

to undress for.


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