In the diffuse sunlight and fitful breeze
Of this August Sunday afternoon,
A moment of strangeness claimed me.
I pondered that Life, as we are all
So fond of naming our time here,
Is a thing of successive layers–
A process of examining experience
From different points in space and time.
Intentional dysphoria overtakes me,
And I recall the slow appraisal of a stranger
Yesterday, in my sweat-drenched progress.
I, not thinking of artfulness or sex appeal,
Simply anxious for the shade of home,
Returning from the Library.
He, bent at some task of suburban maintenance,
Looked up, paused to drink me,
Smiled. His entire posture shouting
Freshness, a slippery familiarity.
Recalling it I feel a change
In how I imagine myself.
In how I believe the Other sees me.
No longer the curled chagrin,
The flush of shame–
For his attitude did not communicate
Displeasure. I imagine he saw
Not some grotesque image,
Porcine and awkward in her shambling,
Sweating and sunburnt by the progress of the day.
No. But rather the free sway of breasts,
Ultimate in their evolutionary temptation,
Beneath a shirt, thin and clinging.
Flushed and moist
With unselfconscious exertion.
A smile, a direct meeting of gazes,
And a tight denim stride.
In retrospect, I see myself
Differently than before.
Neither as an object,
Nor with the artistry of arrogance.
Rather with a better opinion
Of myself in every part.
The inheritance of a comfortable woman.