by Susanna Childress
For those who follow me cozily our the door, for the one
so close in line last night I felt his hard-on, the ones
who say hello, looking at your breasts, how are you,
the puffy-lipped polo shirt wearers who discuss my
classes on days my skirts are thigh-high and my legs
must be making a sound only they can hear.
for those who say God is not even one-quarter She.
for the pokes at ribs and claps on the ass given with
a smile, the knuckles against the neck when I'm pulling
at the doorhandle, the heavy beerish pocket of a mouth,
the pinches while asking what my shirt says, sweet thang
for the white vans whose drviers honk honkhonk,
the doorbells I cannot answer because it could or could not
or could or could not be just Jehovah's Witness men,
the poorly lit parking lots reminding me they found
drops of Trisha's urine behind the swimming pool but
never found Trisha, for the hot damns pelted out rolled-down
windows, the Spanish they don't think I understand one aisle over.
the middle-aged men pushing their children in carts and taking full
bodied looks in frozen food section, the trucker on I-65,
the condom on his fingers pointing at me.
for the dialogue of cottage cheese thighs, the raw popping
laughs when virgins walk by or
butch girls or acned girls or flat girls,
the jokes about bumpy nipples packed-tuna pussy the ugliest
fucks you'd ever seen can't buh
lieve they lettem live that ugly.
for them you do a service, quiet-hearted man, your
fingers on my forehead, your face like rain.
landing anywhere, something clean of your eyes
when you say fair one, when you listen to me,
and for them you oil the humbling of age, you redeem
mankind, you hold out the pearl you found in your chest,
the one each man has, and it speaks to the softest,
scaredest parts of me, the part naked and artless
as a woman's open body, for all of them you
make me think I could unravel into the imperfect,
the sweat, the gingered cadence
of humanity with one of you.