A Woman's Body Ain't Her Own

Everyone has something to say about their bodies.
Smooth as silk. Baby stretched or just scarred.
Frightened into starvation
from emulating gaunt television models.
Taughtly-drawn or full-blown
like new wine sacks
patterned on goddess-figured Rubens.

To ponder the flesh is to ponder the bone,
the locks of the soul,
for the two live each with each,
which may be why
I would render precise this hair and flesh and bone.
I would define its boundaries. Here
cool, nail-bitten fingers snatch quickly the fiery hair.
Oh the hair is your very best feature Mother
(and every man who has ever laid me
down to sleep) says. So you keep it.
It is soft and shiny, long and red, beneath the scissors
now it falls like the howling scream
of an infant with colic.
Please take it.

Moving still, the scissors cut away the face
uncovering sharp bones beneath pallid skin,
and lower, beneath the roseate nipples
on their fleshy hills, and on down
pruning from the redhair-covered pubic mound
to the tense muscles of the thighs until
something separates at last.

A ferret scrambles wildly
away from the clipping snipping shears.
Its eyes look nervously
into my own see only my own desire
to separate its bones from my flesh.

Theresa Mae Thompson
August 16, 1999