If you’ve got it, flaunt it,
said a t-shirt my mother gave me,
but what did I have?

Tiny batteries in my breasts,
which hummed along, expectant.
I did and didn’t want to grow up

and into a woman
so I tore pages out of Mademoiselle
and the monthlies we found hidden

under our fathers’ medical journals,
photos I studied as I cut out a CV
of eyes, mouths,

legs, hips, lips, nipples.
What did I have?
Farrago messages,

tomboy’s body, irreconcilable gig
of what it meant to be “liberated.”
More nipples than clouds, more clouds

than faces, more faces than mothers.
I worked my way around each silhouette,
made a collage,

and shellacked the whole rig with glue
until it crazed, an amateur’s map
once but no longer kept pinned

beside the full-length mirror
out of which unrecognizable landscape
I sometimes stare.
 
 

Catherine Barnett

CATHERINE BARNETT is the author of three collections of poems, Human Hours (forthcoming in fall 2018), The Game of Boxes, and Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced. Her honors include a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. She teaches in the graduate and undergraduate programs at New York University, is a distinguished lecturer at Hunter College, and works as an independent editor. She has degrees from Princeton University, where she has taught in the Lewis Center for the Arts, and from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

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