You Should Be Flattered

I crossed Aramingo Avenue while wearing a dress.
Traffic stood at attention, revving curtains of heat
into the sticky morning. I only made it past one
lane when it started. Come over here, slut. Sit on my face.

I clammed up, stared at the bored folks at the bus stop.
Irate howling cut my curves, I kept my gaze straight,
walked faster, pulled my hem lower. By the second
lane, I felt the source. A minivan two cars back. Acid tongues

unfurled and hurled: Let me take a bite out of that ass, little girl.
The waiting commuters checked their phones, cheated their eyes.
I did it without thinking, I admit. There were witnesses,
I had flats on, I could run if I had to, I was near a store.

Third lane, my left arm stretched up and waved the flag
of my half-mast middle finger, loose and unfocused as the mostly
cocked aggression wood in their wrinkled Dockers.
Get back here you whore. Hoots turned to growls, frothy

fucking going to kill you bitch if you come near here.
It was my fault. I didn’t bat my eyelashes and coo
at their unquenchable thirst to hate-fuck a stranger.
Fourth lane, green light, I leapt to the safety of a glass spattered curb.

I’m sorry, catcalling shitheads in a Ford Escape. I’m sorry,
witnesses who did not ask if I was all right. I’m sorry
for all the things I’ve done: for being a woman, for walking outside,
for being alone, for being alive, for crossing
Aramingo Avenue while wearing a dress.

Rae Pagliarulo is an MFA Creative Writing Candidate at Rosemont College and Creative Nonfiction Editor for Rathalla Review and Literary Mama. Her work has been featured in Full Grown People, Ghost Town Literary Magazine, bedfellows magazine, Scary Mommy, and Philadelphia Stories. She is also the 2014 recipient of the Sandy Crimmins National Poetry Prize and a 2015 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Find her work at