Ode to the White Girl at the Gym

By Shavahn Dorris-Jefferson

White girl with the slender legs, I’ve been measuring myself
by those yardsticks, trying to fit into the cocoon of your skinny
jeans and make this butt a butterfly. White girl with the limpy locks—

angel hair—I’m running behind you on the track, watching your ponytail,
a pendulum, swing back and forth and back again. I bet even the hair
in between your thighs is smooth as thread, your knuckle frizz

a fine, fine filament. You fair thing! The way you stop to stretch,
raising your arms without thinking, bending back without looking
to see who’s behind you. O how I want you and hate you.

Or want to hate you. Or hate to want you. Butter-skinned
beauty, I could swallow you whole and alive.

Shavahn Dorris-Jefferson‘s work has appeared in Rattle online, Painted Bride Quarterly, Carve Magazine, Salamander, The Baltimore Review, Río Grande Review, and Sugar House Review, among others. She was nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize and has been named a Crossfield Fellow by Cuttyhunk Island Writers Residency. She is an associate poetry editor for The Maine Review.

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