THE RED DRESS                                               


My first reaction is: I want it,

can’t wait to squeeze into

a scarlet sheath that promises

breasts round as russet apples,

a waist pinched to a pencil,

hips that know the whole dictionary

of swaying, can’t wait

to saunter down an August street

with every eye upon me.


But the moment I’m zipped in

I can’t breathe and the fabric

hugging my stomach without mercy

pronounces me a frump.

Besides, in the internet café,

where you can phone Tangiers

or Thailand for almost nothing

fourteen pairs of eyes

are absorbed by screens.

No one whistles when I smile

at boxes of tired mangoes

and seedy broccoli heads

outside the Greek superstore.


By now I’m in a fever to undo

the garment and pull it off.

And for all its flaws, for all

that it only boasts one breast,

I’m overjoyed to re-possess

my body. I remember I hate

holding in and shutting away.

What I want is a dress easy

as a plump plum oozing

juice, as a warm afternoon

in late October creeping

its ambers and cinnamons into

leaves, a dress that reasssures

there’s no need to pretend,

a dress that’s as capacious

as generosity, a dress that willingly

unbuttons and whispers in the ear:

be alive every minute of your life.

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Should I read poems written in the first person by women? I don't know. The rule I follow is that if I feel comfortable about reading it, then I read it. I don't read some female poets, such as Anne Sexton or Sylvia Plath.

Myra Schneider


(Circling The Core  Enitharmon Press 2008)