Women

“Anyone Who Has Left Love” (by Sharon Olds)

Image result for boat on water fine art

Anyone who has left love,
who has stepped out of the boat, onto
the water, learns what they had not known
or wanted to. Anyone
who turns their back on love, as if
it might not take too long for them to go
all the way around and come up behind it—
anyone who lets love go,
opens their hand while walking through
a crowd, as if getting, piece by piece,
rid of evidence, will lose,
along with evidence of the thing,
the thing itself. Anyone
who sets love down, and takes their eyes
away, anyone who travels far
when love is home, anyone
who homes alone when love is far,
will lose what cannot be found. Maybe they
thought love was the earth under
the road, or the road under the sole
of the shoe or the foot under the body but by now it is
back there. It was a bush like a fire,
and now—no more fragrance or light
will be inhaled, or seen, as when
you die you will not see the world again.
Even if you thought you had not
believed you were loved, something in you
knew that you were—and you stepped right off love’s roof.

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Caitlyn, waxing, MRSA, and me

Body Wax

Body Wax

Jon Stewart’s by now famous show segment on “being a woman in America” had me thinking about being a woman in America—and, in particular, about being a sometimes denuded one.

After watching his clip regarding Caitlyn Jenner’s 22-page Vanity Fair spread, I began reflecting on the barbaric act of waxing one’s pubic hair and found myself typing “waxing why?” into the Google search bar.

Not surprisingly, the first nine results returned to me included links to 1) skin care centers that would happily wax my parts for up to $80 a pop; 2) an article about “what guys really think of a woman with a Brazilian wax” (hint: “When I’m going down there, I don’t want no hair,” says one); and 3) a piece on whether waxing is better than shaving. (“With the hair removal market estimated to [have been] worth $2.1 billion in the US in 2011,” guess which way the author of the latter was leaning?)

I was happy to see, though, that the tenth search result contained a link to an article in which Dr. Emily Gibson, family physician and head of a UK student health center, calls “for an end to the ‘war on pubic hair'” and claims “it is increasing the risk of infection and of sexually transmitted diseases amongst young people.”

We have been cowed by an Internet porn industry “[that] gave a generation of men a lot of exposure to ladies who are completely bare down there,” and women have ignored their own health in the dim hope their husbands, partners, and one-night stands would wish to ravish them upon seeing their baby-like bare belows.

I, for one, have put myself at great risk the times I have had a Brazilian wax—coming away each time with increasingly alarming infections. The last time I did it I went for a “Hollywood wax” and several days later was diagnosed with MRSA, a bacterial infection that is resistant to commonly used antibiotics and that can be fatal if left untreated or if unsuccessfully treated.

Although one could die from a MRSA infection, and although it took several courses of antibiotic to rid myself of what was a very frightening infection, I cannot say with certainty that I will never again wax that fragile region. So strong, it seems, is the magnetic pull of conformity—especially where sex and loneliness are involved—that I could once more find myself powerless in the face of it.

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Tripping then falling

alice-falling

1. night

In the fever dream I mean to write a love poem,

an ode really, but without any edges,

and begin to think how I can sardine together

tender words you would have wanted to hear:

loverdarlingsweetheartdear

(as a woman might call to a sailor tossed over the bow)

or try and imagine a blue-black ocean crashing waves

of churning conch pearls onto the brown sand and

burying you knee deep in abalone shell.

2. dawn

Hearing the laughter of a Siren from another dark sea

I look up just as she touches your mouth with a fingertip and

whispers something saucy enough to make you

grab hold her hips and quick swim away from me.

3. day

In the morning dream I awaken

belly down on a bed of cracked earth

and somehow know that our hot-dim world

has been without rain and bright light for years.

Off to the right stands a ramshackle cottage

where we once lived with our young children —

well kept then, our cottage —

with the front window kicked out across its middle and

looking like a row of jagged teeth.

Just inside sits our long table,

now made of red hickory,

where we ate a last meal together, the twins,

as you may recall,

spooning sweet potato pie onto the good plates

while two flickering honey candles dripped wax

on the turkey platter and our kind but unlovely

Charlotte, your dear girl,

quietly carved her first name into my sideboard.

4. and down

At some point I notice the basement door

and am eager to remember what else we left behind

so slowly descend the wooden stairs though

cannot see much of anything and

missing the bottom step altogether

fall forward into the silent wide open.

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and said,

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“Sit over there on the sofa no dear the white one but mind

where you put your feet and leave the coat unbuttoned yes

very pretty like a red painting or a two-line poem pity,

death, because I didn’t know your eyes would be dark

and deep like the sea outside or think

those delicate wrists would be pulsing with so much life

the wife was a brown rodent fat as a field

you know I might have finished her myself but

she died before I had that pleasure ha so

stand up and turn very slowly now

pour me a little wine before I come kiss

those lips of yours they beckon and how.”

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