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"Love Poem to Myself, Number Five", "The Kind of Woman I’d Write Poems About"… by Robin Kinzer

Love Poem to Myself, Number Five

Forty-two. That’s how old you are

when you finally put down the knife

aimed at your own chest. That’s how

old you are when you finally begin

to love your own precious body.

You’re not quite sure what did it,

but suspect that seeing disease winnow

and wither your weight away tore your

eyes wide open. Made you see what

marvels had been there all along.

You even love the pocket of abdomen

fat that droops below your narrow waist

now— have looked it straight on

in the mirror as you change, and smiled,

patted your little kangaroo pouch.

(When I say narrow, I mean compared

to the rest of you. You are all hourglass,

the inward dip of your waist feeding

right back into full hips. Your breasts

are pendulous and large. Delicious.)

This year, the year you finally begin

to love yourself, is also the year you

can’t stop wearing orange. Orange

velvet wiggle dress; rust orange swing

dress; skirt rung round with delicate fruit.

You begin to associate orange with self

love— dying streaks of tangerine into

your pink hair, smearing on gleaming orange

liquid eyeshadow, sliding orange daisies

into the raspberry and russet of your hair.

It only turns into a bit of a sitcom episode

when you decide you really need an orange

jumpsuit. When you look them up, you’re

shown mostly Halloween costumes of people

as prisoners. Perhaps you’ll hold off this once.

But not for long. Soon you’ll find the next

perfect orange thing. And you’ll look into

the mirror as you put it on, whispering

just this, over and over: I love you. I’m sorry

it took me so long. Sometimes orange is hard

to come by. I love you. I’m sorry it took me

so long. You’ll cradle your little kangaroo

pouch, then glide your brave, thick body

into something orange and satin and sweet.

I love you. I’m sorry it took me so long.

The Kind of Woman I’d Write Poems About

She’s the kind of woman I’d stay up all night talking

with, her giggle a balloon animal. Inching my own joy

closer to the ceiling, where hers wiggles its tail happily.

She’s the kind of woman I’d buy blue velvet dresses

for, chain daisies through her rainbow of soft hair.

We’re both pale, voluptuous. Small hands, chipped nails.

I want to take her to Rehoboth in Autumn, when

the season is just dying down. When there are still

boardwalk fries, but no boardwalk people. I want

to show her the blue and white hotel with the prints

of seahorses on the walls. I want to leap through waves

with her, barefoot and cackling, glee hooking to pink clouds

that swirl above us. Sanderlings darting between our toes.

She’s the kind of woman who loads up her cuddly

hatchback with snacks and luggage, when you fall ill

and desperately need to see a small heap of doctors.

It’s literally life and death— she eases in beside you.

Grips the wheel, phosphoresces. Fends dirge-dark away.

She’s the kind of woman who asks questions; who

actually cares about the answers; who talks in rushes

of bubbles, but always leans in to listen as well.

I tried to tell her how I feel tonight, as we sat across from

one another in a crowded sushi restaurant, and we both

nearly turned to tears. Ever since Kat and Heather died,

I’ve thought I would never love friends that way again.

She’s the kind of woman who makes me think I’m wrong.

She glows in the dark, human turned constellation, and doesn’t

even know it. I’m not falling in love with her, but there’s

a trail of pink calla lily petals leading from my heart to hers.

Friendship is its own sort of falling when you do it right.

I don’t mourn the dead less tonight, but I do sleep more

soundly. I memorize the downbeats of her laughter,

the alabaster arc of her cheeks when she smiles. It’s past one

a.m. when she finally leaves my room for her own, next door.

Her pearled nails are glittered newly teal, and she scoops up

a slice of cheesecake our server gave us for free. Even in black,

she’s so colorful, the room undulates. I turn my bedroom lights

off, squeeze my eyes shut, practice glowing in the dark like Clara.

First Christmas in Baltimore

CW: Sexual Assault

We crunch through mounds of grey-soured snow, arms

linked loosely, on our way to the corner hardware store.

Every year, you throw a Christmas Party for those who

would otherwise spend the holiday alone. You need white

twinkle lights. Need a sturdy shovel to clear your front

walkway. A bag of rock salt. More than once, you catch

me at the waist when I slip on a smear of ice. We have

known each other for twenty-two years, and I trust you

more than anyone in all of Baltimore. Still new in town,

I spend too many late nights alone, eating Indian takeout,

cross-legged on a blue velvet couch from the sixties.

In the hardware store, there’s an enormous orange cat

named Gingerbread. A suspiciously festive name.

You gather twinkle lights, shovel, light bulbs, all while

I pet Gingerbread. You going to steal that fat cat?, you whisper

into my ear. I startle, then laugh. Shrug. I’m considering it.

We stop to get frothed cups of hot cocoa on the way

back to your home, cupping them close to our cold-bitten

lips. I remember urging perspiring cans of Mug Root Beer

from the rickety vending machine at YMCA camp. Offering

them to you, rose-faced, stuttering like a broken metronome.

Now, twenty-two years later, you usher me into the warmth

of your yellow row-home. I have something for you, you smile.

My hands leap to startled lips. I thought we’d said no presents.

In the corner is a two-foot tall, light-up tree that matches my

pink hair precisely. I glimpse my reflection in tinfoil branches.

I don’t come to your Christmas party, but we have regular

take-out Korean nights at home. Watch sci-fi classics, and

even once, the newest Pee-wee Herman movie. We sit

in the sun, eat spicy corn fritters and brie cooked with jam.

We cuddle, but it never goes beyond that. Your friendship,

you promise, is worth far more than sex. Soon it’s the day

after New Year’s, and I’m drinking vodka alone. My first

drink in a decade, but for no reason more than curiosity.

You call me, insist on coming over. Don’t worry, you say.

I don’t mess with drunk people. I just want to take care of you.

I am giggly. Woozy. We curl under the oceanic swells

of my teal comforter. I just want to be two sleepy cats.

From there, my memory is hollowed out, is mostly holes.

A worn-out loofah or a hunk of cratered black rock.

I have snatches of hazy recall— a tongue on my nipple,

teeth at my hips. I hear the crinkle of condom wrappers.

Our calls stop after that night. No more good morning messages.

It takes me two years to call what happened what it really was,

and takes you four to confess and apologize. I don’t take your

confession letter to the police. Consider that payment for

the pink tinsel tree crammed in the back of my deepest closet,

which I somehow still can’t bring myself to throw away.

Robin Kinzer is a queer, disabled poet, memoirist, teacher, and editor. Robin has poems and essays published, or forthcoming, in Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Blood Orange Review, fifth wheel press, Delicate Friend, Anti-Heroin Chic, Rooted in Rights, and others. She’s a Poetry Editor for the winnow magazine. She loves glitter, Ferris wheels, vintage fashion, sloths, and radical empathy. She can be found on Twitter at @RobinAKinzer and at


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