How Girls Walk Through the Eye of a Needle
By LaWanda Walters
The girls are getting slimmer now as if, perhaps
to keep themselves from their mothers’ fates.
They float in thin blouses above the fat plates,
their bodies forced like flowers into shape.
Not eating gives them a high window ledge
from which to contemplate life – an ascetic,
cloistered place. On the back pocket of jeans they like,
a tiny, red-inked Buddha smiles. “True Religion”
jeans are hard to get into, expensive and just
for the thinnest. I say, too loud, “It’s like binding feet,”
embarrassing my daughter. But I did think
of those rich-girl feet that could not walk right –
at night they’d unwind the binding and the stink
drove husbands wild. Girls turn to bone so love will last.
Poem / LaWanda Walters grew up in Mississippi and North Carolina, earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She received postgraduate degrees in literature and poetry from California’s Humboldt State University and Indiana University. Her work has appeared in many prestigious reviews, and her first collection of poetry, “Light Is the Odalisque,” was published by Press 53, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The poem was first published in “Danse Macabre.”
Walters, also an accomplished painter, lives in Cincinnati with her husband, fellow poet John Philip Drury.
Picture / Sara Caswell-Pearce, “Shaped,” 2016. Mixed-media collage with vintage magazine illustrations; antique engineering engraving; acrylic paint, ink. “At first, my collage may not seem relevant to the poem, but it is all about the idea of women shaping and reshaping themselves, and being told to do so throughout history – and often, being forced to be something other than what they are.”