By Elizabeth Langemak:
A PHOTOGRAPH OF HER SHOWERING
As passionless, burned-out, dusty shells, we dislike love poems . . . As [one of our
editors] says, why not “text me a photograph of her showering”?
I am enclosing, as text, the photo
you ask for. Though my husband
refuses, I make this in secret
and print it black over white. Though
the angles and lighting are tough
to nail down, and the process
makes my whole body a long face
for tears as the spray breaks over
my scalp and rolls down.
Though my right hand withers,
as I rake damp hair into rows.
Though the cheap curtain cleaves
to my thigh, I peel it off like a rind
teased from its fruit in one strip.
You thought I was dusty, a shell.
You said I was burned out,
but now my skin is slapping and slick,
the camera demanding more arch
and frontal. When I read your note
I was spitting with anger. I could
not get your eyes off my nipples,
my breasts, but now I make you
this square handful of edges,
a black-and-white chip where my ass
hangs over tan lines like a sun
without set, where stretch marks
like fault lines ride over each thigh
and a pocked scar stabs into my shoulder.
Once I knew men like you and tried
to be sexy but in the shower
I only got soaked. On the bed
where I practiced I only looked
posed. In cabins on nights with your jars
full of scotch I hoped you might
see past what you saw and fuck me,
but now it seems we have both changed
our minds. Here I am. In a poem,
just breath-long, I am perfect.
I send you this picture because
a photo of showering is just wet
and sex, but the poem lays down
its camera and hands me a towel,
knows the route I send it
over my calves, over my nape
and around. How many
flashes and clicks turn a love poem
around into only a woman to
fuck you? Fuck you.
Elizabeth Langemak lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Editor’s Note: Today’s poem is one of resistance. In response to the editors who called love poems “burned-out, dusty shells” and said, why not “text me a photograph of her showering,” Elizabeth Langemak speaks out against the objectification of women’s bodies and the misogyny rearing its ugly head in a still-patriarchal society. Frankly feminist, exquisitely lyric, and commendably unabashed, today’s poet answers the question “Why not text me a photograph of her showering?” with the only response needed: “Fuck you.”
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