a woman in a dress is many things:
a city on fire, the first arrival of a train at la ciotat;
beauty is terror. she is
heat, against your cheek her hand rests
and you notice the arch of her wrist is sharp –
a drop of sweat pools
in the cleft of your collar; the air is stuffed
with the weight of quiet violence.
you are not a woman in a dress. your body is not enough
for this anointment requires: thighs taut with expectation,
muscle memory; back sloped
just so to show off negative space – art draped
or shaped by the gentle unfolding of sight across skin.
you are not a woman at all, but a girl with
sticky lips and fingers not long enough to reach
the back of your throat or the deep of your cunt. a girl
with fat ankles, a furred lip, and a weird-warped spine.
what makes a woman, then? duel to first blood –
hers or yours?
one day you will become a woman, not
because of the new fullness of your chest
or any biological capacity, but because you
have learnt that your hair is a snake-nest, your
smile a steak-knife, the look over your shoulder
a well-laid trap.
when that day comes, you will realize:
a dress is optional.
Angelica Chong is an undergraduate student at NYU studying a mix of media & communications, English literature, and business. She has been away from poetry for too long and hopes to always keep it close to her from now on.