My mother tells me to learn how to take a compliment,
but she covers her face in photographs,
so I don’t listen
when you tell me you love me.
It’s Saturday morning at Macy’s and I’m looking at the mannequins. They have nipples,
but no face. I feel the same way in the dressing room, wondering what I can get away
with. I came inside wanting to buy a new sundress for Spring. But I buy a raincoat.
I go to the gym at lunchtime, cancelling our date, because I’d rather be cornered by
sweaty mounds of strange men
who could break me
as soon as want me
than have you tell me
that you don’t care.
You like my insides.
On the treadmill, I pretend I’m running away. Four men stand behind me watching, and
one of them asks for my number. I don’t say anything. Instead I walk to my car, and I
wonder if from behind, I look good escaping.
And then it’s one a.m., and I’m at Kroger,
and it’s easier
to buy a Dr. Pepper two-liter
than it is to answer your call.
The bag boy hands me my purchase, brushes my wrist, tells me my skin is soft.
Thank you. There’s weight in his words and his face makes me tense. His eyes say,
You’re not above me. They tell me, You’re worse.
I can’t smile in photographs, either.
For now, I’ll find comfort in running errands, comfort in the security guard’s grin as I
buy the least practical bra in the store.
I’m no better than I’ve been.