My Mother Helps Me
It doesn’t matter
if you’re ready, she told me
as we wrestled by the closet mirror.
She pulled the polka dot Flamenco
dress above my head.
Stuck where breasts grew.
She said they were breasts.
I knew it was simple fat
even then. I was a fat little girl and would be
but I wanted to fit
and badly. The polka dots,
bright red on white. Like the Revlon
Fire and Ice I bartered
from the drugstore. I knew then a curvature,
how a thigh bears the imprints of the lawn-chair
long after you’re sitting.
All these women in the world
and still you feel ashamed,
she spoke into the bedroom mirror.
There was a mirror in every room
back then. I’d jump up and down,
sweaty hand around the Walkman. 17 counts.
A rest period. I thought: It will feel good,
the smallness that someday a lover
in dove grey morning
would bind me towards becoming.
Margaret Kaplan has an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. She lives in New York and works as an editor.