The Whole History of Femininity

by Laura Read

At your wedding, you lifted up your dress
so I could attach your garter belt to your stockings.
My hand was shaking even though we still had
the strange intimacy of girls,
so you had to reach around and clip the belt yourself.
I failed you and the whole history of femininity.
But we lived in a time of elastic.
The only problem with pantyhose was how easily
they tore, but you could paint over a hole
with clear fingernail polish.
It was still a hole, but it didn’t get any larger.
Did you know at weddings people used to tackle
the bride to remove the garter?
Do men like all those belts and clips
so they feel like they’re finding something hidden,
something that is theirs alone?
I drove ten hours to your wedding in a borrowed car.
When you visited me the next year,
I was eating only grapes and English muffin pizzas.
My heart was beating fast like when you jump
in a cold lake and at first you think you might die.
I went to the doctor and he said I had something called
costochondritis and hooked me up to a machine
that sent electric currents across my chest.
I know now I was just hungry.
Since then, I have never let anyone touch
that spot between my breasts.