Day 12 brings us Pamela Steele, and her poem, “To the Woman Single Again,” from the collection Paper Bird.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE POEM
Pamela leads us into the poem with a touch of dry, “Why me?” humor that punctuates a seemingly exhausting period of inquiry, bewilderment and self-doubt. From there, the poem takes us through a moment of reprieve and nighttime contemplation, then guides us into a morning filled with images, colors, and a sense of moving on.
To the Woman Single Again
Yesterday in the public library, a man stopped by the table
where you were reading Carolyn Forche, leaned down
and mumbled something with rubber band lips that you
asked him to repeat. A ribbon of drool fell from his mouth
as he said, Are you a boy or a girl? In your best library voice,
you whispered Girl, and he sidled away, leaving you distracted
and remembering how you complained to a friend about lesbians
in Kroger who stare at you and your butch hair
until she finally said, For God’s sake, put on some makeup
and earrings! Later, when you took off your coat in the diner,
a car salesman at the counter stared at your wild
breasts and you thought, I just can’t win.
Likely, there are nights when you fear you will always be alone,
wondering how you will manage the back stairs when you are old.
Tonight, put on some Dylan, maybe “Blood on the Tracks,” and pace
from the couch to the window and back again. Feel rough wood
beneath your feet. Forget about your hair and your father
who joked he’d need a whole wall in the family room
just for pictures of your husbands. Resist applying the Buddhist
principle of only so many breaths in a lifetime
to say, orgasms or the number of photos in which you are smiling.
In the morning, put on your coat, walk through the back door
and down the stairs. Follow the alley to the street where
a row of Victorians stand in scoured yards.
See past the littered hedges and ruined Christmas wreaths.
Find the purple crocuses floating on the dry grass.
Breathe. Wait. Breathe.
A Poet a Day is a month-long celebration of poets and poetry, in honor of National Poetry Month. Writers reserve all rights to their work, and all work appears with their permission.