Wise Poets – Kristene Kaye Brown – For the Woman on Main Street Stopping to Pull Up Her Pantyhose

Kristene Kaye Brown

I too have had my hands full of what keeps me
contained, a vastness softened by restraint
and made more terrible
because of it. I think it’s time we talk
about the safety of distance,
how the tire tread of rush hour traffic
sounds like something being patiently worn down,
how the cars parked along the street
never seem to come or go, but are just here
or not. Some days, I am just here or not. Like you,
I am more patient when I am still.
Trying to fasten it all in,
like the daughters before us whittling their waists
with whale bones. A quickened zero
shrinking to less. Like you,
I have made myself a smaller shadow,
built my absence out of air. I watch
as you arrange your body
into a more presentable frame, hands fumbling
against that embrace
without compromise, nails snagging a run,
nails with their many moons
below. I recognize the tiny flame of your struggle.
Your eyes so sudden and near.
Your eyes meeting mine. What do you see?
The same?
Clouds languish overhead like a phantom steam
we cannot touch. Forgive me.
Like you, I turn away,
squinting into the sun, into the thin light
that moves above and holds us here.