Sunday, January 07, 2007

real women i know by kelly zen-yie tsai

real women i know
by kelly zen-yie tsai

real women i know have flaws
not just cellulite or acne scars
or body odor or bad musical taste

but serious flaws

flaws like cheating on their partners
or stealing their best friend’s lovers

flaws like looking for what’s the best inside
of them, inside of someone else

assuming crisis
assuming miracle
or assuming nothing at all

real women i know
never knew how they grew up
so fast

holding fists out with eyes closed
we become mothers, divorcees,
widows, we become addicts, abusers,
liars, we become all that we didn’t
understand about the adult world
shocked that the little girl in us
hasn’t yet disappeared

real women i know keep no
good friends on the couch for months,
don’t bug them about their hustling,
let them back in when they come back
knocking on the door

real women i know are in therapy,
and madly in love with their shrinks, happy to
talk about the sad parts, sad to talk
about the happy parts, sick of
going on medication

real women i know think about destroying
themselves either through starvation
or television, work or people who refuse
to treat them well, we are persistent in this effort
and yet, we cannot refuse the invitation to continue on

real women i know have wounds on
their bodies from when they were
jumped in front of everyone they know
on the block or raped as a child in the bathroom

real women i know carry these as they fade

real women i know rarely
forgive themselves
for any of these things

real women i know laugh in bed while
eating girl scout cookies and smoking
weed, shave their heads when its weight
became too much, reinvent themselves
with wardrobes, careers, locations, and partners

real women i know work thousands of miles
away from their families, collect barrettes in a
chest of drawers, pack cardboard boxes full
of candy, shampoo, and soap to send home,
real women i know support the economies
of entire countries

real bio women i know aren’t women at all
but tranny bois, genderqueer, or genderfluid
with short hair and button-down shirts
genitalia only one tiny part
of the gender puzzle when the world
offers so much more

real women i know keep a diagram
of how to give oral sex properly by the bed,
line the dildos up along its edge. real
women i know have given up sex to find love.
real women i know are just now teaching
themselves how to masturbate

real women i know feel like
they don’t have anyone to kick it
with anymore, like they are the only
ones in the world even in cities like
Chicago, New York, Los Angeles,
with millions of souls to mirror
their loneliness

real women i know
joined sororities to learn
how the white girls do
to live in this society as
a colored girl

real women i know have
uterine fibroids and limited
healthcare. they speak
in hushed tones, smartly and clinically
of its growth, with one palm pressed
over the abdomen

real women i know are mothers
unexpectedly, the babies come,
and teach them to stand with
two feet on the ground, arms spread
wide, legs pushed apart
ready for whatever comes

real women i know fall in love
as far away as cuba, philippines,
new zealand, south africa, india,
foolish and brave enough
to trust what the heart wants

real women i know drive themselves
into the ground eternally, don’t allow
themselves rest, take on everyone else’s
burden—don’t allow themselves to give up
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