Might I be celebrated for believing there are many ways to be a woman?
I might long for the sweeping of a hero’s arms as the morning light bathes us
like we will be forever young lovers. Why I want that is beyond me
because your leg muscles atrophy when you are carried all the time.
All the time I think about when I climbed the giant sawdust pile
in the back woods of Goffstown, New Hampshire and my dad and uncle jabbered on and on
about tractor engines and property right. You’ll never make it to the top. And still I climbed.
I climbed so high that my feet slid from gravity and the unstable existence
of wood remnants that are no longer trees, not made into boards just sand
like dust — sawdust ashes. I feared climbing to impossible heights because boredom
always makes me do stupid things. In college waiting in my almost-boyfriend’s dorm room for him and everyone else to stop talking, jabbering again, about radio shows
and set lists, I took a Jolly Rancher candy and lit it on fire. A drop of candy plummeted onto my skin just where my thumb attaches to my hand. I didn’t scream. Someone else did.
I put out the flame. My boyfriend rushed me to the bathroom hollering, My dad is a doctor. I know what to do. He didn’t. He peeled the candy off, taking blister and skin.
So many layers
Some men will do that. There are many ways to be a woman just like there are many ways to be bored. Up on the saw dust pile, I stood, triumphant. Whoa. Dad’s eyes grew big.
Come on down. But before I could the pile collapsed. Of course it did.
There are many ways to be a woman. I dug myself out, laughing wood dust. Inhaling it.
Sawdust was everywhere. Mom screamed when she saw me, banging the counter of the kitchen, which was too easy of course. Rage is bland when it’s against an inanimate object
Even when it’s one that your ex-husband built with his own two hands.
I can’t trust him with you for an hour! There are many ways to be a woman.
I can believe that I am strong that I am not bored that I won’t be sawdust or burnt skin, too many stripped layers.
I can believe.