You’re romancing your mirror self
Pores apart, she’s a pretty good package
Suddenly, a flash of silver-
lightning in the soft black clouds of your hair,
Suddenly, your tears are rain
and your fingers are reaching into the clouds
looking, looking for more lightning to burn your fingertips
You’re peeing, and the hard cool porcelain feels good against your sweaty legs
And suddenly you can’t pee
You’re full of Tang and water (among other things, like vim and vigour)
but you Just. Can’t. Pee.
Maybe the plumbing’s broken?
The porcelain chafes your skin as you settle your skirt
and realise you have Tap Envy. It’s gushing, and you can’t.
You’re shopping at an old haunt, the clothes and staff
as familiar as good friends, so betrayal is far from your mind
as you tug a pair of jeans on in the boxy little trial room
and they stop at your knees. They won’t go further.
You twist your neck to check. Size M, yes. 28, yes. You can’t even.
Keys, phone, plastic hangers clatter to the floor
as you retrieve your own clothes and the dregs of your self esteem
“Another time!”, you wave to the salesgirl, who asks if it fit, if you liked it, if you’d like anything else.
You come home flushed from a small success at work,
a skeevy colleague chastened, a project progressed, praise earned
You’re New Woman, Superwoman, Modern Woman, Woman of Substance, Wonder Woman
You’re all the stock photos in your presentation on ‘Indian Women- Changing Roles’,
Slide Numbers 2 (‘Altered Appearance’), 3 (‘Enhanced Confidence’), 4 (‘Challenger Mindset’) and 5 (‘Efficiency’)
Till you come home, and they want to know when you will make a baby because clearly,
your nights belong to presentations about changing the world.
Your best friend is getting married. Her invite,
a sunny yellow gold-embossed rectangle, has been taped to your fridge for over a month now.
You’ve scraped a chewing gum and rotting grass off of your favourite heels with your fingernails
because you’re going to wear them and dance holes into the carpet at her house.
And then, like a bad, hammy actor, a Family Emergency makes an appearance
and you can’t go. This girl held your head in your arms when you broke up,
washed your snot and fed you with her lunch money, and you can’t go.
You’re so bad at sex you mortify yourself
Suddenly, you’re lurking in the Self Help section of a seedy bookstore,
and Googling the female anatomy, committing whole diagrams to memory,
because you are what you do when it counts.. But you fail, and it’s not cute anymore
to giggle self-consciously, or to wrap the sheets around you and pretend you’re a mummy
No, it’s not cute. You need to step up. You need to stain the sheets a red the colour of your bridal sari
And when it happens, you need to be elegant, woman-of-the-wordly, detached, even, about it. You’re a Woman now.
But what if you aren’t? What if you don’t want to be? What if you’re still a girl who likes to pull the sheets over her
head and be Casper The Friendly Ghost?