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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