Getting My Body Back

by Sara Moore Wagner

Sara Moore Wagner

By chance he put his eye to the keyhole. It was a feast-day and Donkey Skin had put on her dress of gold and diamonds … The prince was breathless at her beauty, her youthfulness, and her modesty (From Perrault’s “Donkeyskin”)

In the middle of the night,
I go into the butcher shop
through a keyhole in the back
door. In the middle of the night
I go through a hole in the door
to get my body back. Imagine
someone looking through,
that I try each skin like a dress,
each one lovelier than the next—stables
in the heart open. They’re running. Chant:
beauty, beauty, beauty, like I’m a girl
again, like nothing ever happened
to my body, like I never hatched
open from the crotch, unlatching,
splintered, tear. Here,
when I get my body back,
there are no fingerprints on the hems,
no. And didn’t he promise, after I lost it,
to help me get it back or find
another. And didn’t I seek myself
in every coral grotto and pearl. Nothing
looks the same. Who are you?
I’ve put on my moon dress,
in the butchered light, discarded
the tired skin I wore the night
you stopped wanting me. And my mother
tells me no one will believe something
beautiful is inside something so
frightful. And when I put on my new
body, looking in, you might say
I see you, and at last,
it will be so.

Swan Wife

Last updated September 19, 2022