in response to to “Portrait d’une Femme,” by Ezra Pound
I am tired of men making me
either bigger or smaller than I am. Once,
I used to accommodate,
used to let them shape my clay
and tried to be as changeable as Alice,
either shrinking or growing tall,
but never the right size.
Now, I refuse to be molded.
Now, I draw out the fibers of my heart
and construct nets and webs,
weave fragile encasements.
I am watchful as a spider’s many eyes;
I am still as a tiger in the tall grass.
Now, I catch and snare. I cage them in my arms,
and leave teeth marks for their wives to find.
Then I cast them off like carrion,
let them float away like driftwood.
Let them tsk, tsk in disappointment
as they leave, thinking me too much,
or too little. Let them think they owned me,
let them believe I was something they collected,
like the trinkets and baubles they load
onto their shelves. Shelves thick with ships
in bottles, birds constructed from sea shells,
porcelain poppies and pomegranates,
tiny tin soldiers and miniature ceramic figurines,
which they must polish and keep dusted.
Let them say to themselves, I own, therefore I am.
If I have nothing, it is because
I own only myself—these arms,
these rubber breasts, this sagging, barren
stomach, these rattling legs that still love to dance—and yet,
I know that even my flesh is borrowed. What I own
lies deeper. There are oceans within me
more vast than any poet could constrain
into paper cup of his lines. Beneath
this stormy surface, lie the cool, dark
secrets that belong only to me.
Andrea Blythe graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a BA in Modern Literature. She lives in the Bay Area of Northern California, where she writes poetry and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, including Nonbinary Review, Linden Avenue, Chiaroscuro (ChiZine), Strange Horizons, Perigee, Bear Creek Haiku, and Chinquapin. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award.