Posted by olvlzl.
Woman With Girdle
Your midriff sags toward you knees;
your breasts lie down in air,
their nipples as uninvolved as warm starfish.
You stand in your elastic case,
still not giving up the new-born
and the old-born cycle.
Moving, you roll down the garment,
down that pink snapper and hoarder,
as your belly, soft as pudding,
slops into the empty space;
down, over the surgeon’s careful mark,
down over hips, those head cushions
and mouth cushions,
slow motion like a rolling pin,
over crisp hairs, that amazing field
that hides your genius from your patron;
over thighs, thick as young pigs,
over knees like saucers,
over calves, polished as leather,
down toward the feet.
You pause for a moment,
tying your ankles into knots.
Now you rise,
a city from the sea,
born long before Alexandria was,
straightway from God you have come
into your redeeming skin.
Anne Sexton: All My Pretty Ones
I don’t remember which feminist it was, probably in the late 1960s or early 1970s, who said that she dreamed of a day when girls and young women would never have the experience to know what it was like to wear a girdle. Given the power of backlash and marketing has that dream come true or is it unfulfilled?
I’m more secure in thinking it was Maggie Letvin, one of the few physiologically based exercise experts of the time, who said, in roughly the same period, that you could take a perfectly healthy woman, put her into a girdle and ruin her health. As a someone who has never had that experience, reading this poem was painful in more ways than one. Anne Sexton noticed things.