Ice Water

by Catherine Weiss

when i was 8
i didn’t worry when i
grew up that dudes
yelling things at me
out of moving cars
would be an issue
generally the culprit
is a big jeep thing
full of college bros
with their windows down
i always want to say
but i’m just like you
(minus the whole being
an asshole thing)
you have made a mistake
i am a person

when i was 8
i did not anticipate
i’d have to choose
between being apologetic
to the business man
sitting next to me
on an airplane
and staying home
there’s nothing like
seeing a bored stranger’s
day instantly ruined
when he figures out
he has to
spend several hours
adjacent to

when i was 8
i didn’t think that
by the time i was 15
i would be throwing up
several times a day
in the dormitory bathroom
hoping the girls i lived with
thought i was puking because
i was pregnant
which would mean someone
considered my body
worth touching

when i was 8
i did not live with
the knowledge
that someday boyfriends
who privately
took pleasure from my figure
would be
to hold my hand in public
when all i wanted
was to pass for
half a couple
like i was one of you

when i was 8
i had not yet absorbed
that i wasn’t a person
worth talking to
because i wasn’t fuckable enough
but somewhere along the line
i got tired of apologizing
for taking up more than
my fair share of real estate
so no i’m not sorry
that sometimes my arms
are visible
and i’m not sorry
i’m asking you to look
at me right now
and i’m not sorry
i’m telling you
to listen

so listen

if you ever bothered to
stop your jeep
climb on out
shake my hand
and have a dialogue
you know, like adults
i’d get to explain
the space i’m taking up
on the sidewalk
never belonged to you

when i was 8
i thought i could be
inside your car someday
and a part of me still feels silenced
standing out on the pavement
the feel of ice-water slowly
trickling down the back of my neck

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