trading places

now that i’m almost 40
i don’t mind
if you notice me
riding my bicycle
i don’t mind your voice
pig-missiled across the road
like a football
at my back
because even if i can’t throw
like a man
i can burp as good as any
and spit clear long shots
my opinion in your face
and when i see
some young beefcake
strutting across my life
i know how to make him feel
my presence
the presence of my sex
i know how
to make him feel
his youth

so when my therapist suggests
that it’s possible
that i identify
with the male sex
in order to avoid feeling
the way i felt
when i was thirteen
walking head down and helpless
past construction workers
when she suggests
that a person might prefer feeling
powerful to powerless
i have to admit
some truth
i have to admit
it’s uncomfortable
finally feelng
like a woman
i have to admit
i’m angry

go ahead
call me
baby
i’m only twice your age
and that old fear is just a thrill
running up the backs
of my legs
flying off loose in my hair
(you can’t see my wrinkles)
i’m smiling
all your young sweatglow muscle
piece of cake
melting
in my imagination

wendy shaffer

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