by | Apr 15, 2023 | Poetry

CHANGING by Lynn Pattison

Dim light, smell of wet boards, Clorox.
_____At ten, mostly elbow, knee and ribcage,
I hurry into my red bathing suit.

Slowly, I tie the strap at the back,
_____sit on the bench to unbuckle my sandals.
It’s hot in the bathhouse, sweat itches

my neck. Bare, round bottoms, billowing
_____hips. Breasts spilling from brassieres,
pale and smooth as Mama’s

bread dough rising above the rim
_____of her blue-striped bowl. I know
not to stare but risk short looks,

overwhelmed by the easy way
_____these women move alongside each other.
A brunette from the college pulls on

her white Esther Williams swimsuit
_____and rubs oil into her arms, over thighs plush
as sofa cushions. Tugging at the seat

of her suit, she turns, winks at me
_____as she leaves. I’m ashamed. A dumb baby.
Though Grandma’s round, she’s always

bound in stiff corsets. And Mama,
_____petite and trim, is almost as boyish as me.
No such generous flesh soaks

in our bathtub or checks a reflection
_____in the mirror. My friends are already wading
into the water. I grab my towel,

stop to stand at the door, trying
_____to guess secrets that edge at me. Outside,
sand burns my feet. I’m running.

Photo by Smudge 9000, used and adapted under CC.

About The Author

Lynn Pattison

Lynn Pattison lives in Southwest Michigan. Her poems have appeared in Ruminate, Aji Journal, The Notre Dame Review, Pinyon, and Smartish Pace, among others, and been anthologized in several venues. She is the author of four poetry collections: tesla’s daughter (March St. Press), Walking Back the Cat (Bright Hill Press), Light That Sounds Like Breaking (Mayapple Press), and most recently, Matryoshka Houses (Kelsay Press, 2020). Pattison’s work has been nominated for Pushcart recognition and inclusion in Best Small Fictions and, most recently, Best Microfiction 2021. She has been supported in her writing by an Irving S. Gilmore artist grant, The Ragdale Foundation, and the AWP Writer to Writer Program.

Books by Lynn Pattison

Lynn Pattison