“What Do Women Want?”

By Kim Addonizio b. 1954 Kim Addonizio
I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it   
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store   
with all those keys glittering in the window,   
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old   
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers   
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,   
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.   
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.   
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you   
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment   
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body   
to carry me into this world, through   
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,   
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,   
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Kim Addonizio, “What Do Women Want?” from Tell Me. Copyright © 2000 by Kim Addonizio. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd, www.boaeditions.org.

Source: Tell Me (BOA Editions Ltd., 2000)

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Poet Kim Addonizio b. 1954

Subjects Love, Social Commentaries, The Body, Gender & Sexuality, Nature, Relationships, Desire, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse, Metaphor

 Kim  Addonizio


Kim Addonizio was born in Washington DC, the daughter of a former tennis champion and a sports writer. She attended college in San Francisco, earning both her BA and MA from San Francisco State University, and has spent much of her adult life in the Bay Area. She currently lives and teaches workshops in Oakland, California. Addonizio has received numerous awards for her work, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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