The Sensitive Woman
by Theodora Goss
There are days on which I am a thunderstorm,
and days on which I am an eggshell. Today,
I am so fragile that if you breathed on me,
I would break apart. The pieces of me would lie
on the kitchen floor, over the hard gray tiles,
my torso in fragments, my heart like a shattered cup,
one eye near the sink, one near the refrigerator,
staring upward, blinking.
There is a story about a woman so sensitive
that she could be bruised by the brush of a swallow’s wing,
that the cold light of the moon would burn her cheek.
There is a story about a woman who wept at the fall
of a rose petal, at the sight of a spider’s web,
at a line from Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale.”
There is a story about a woman who could not be
consoled when she heard a single measure of Brahms,
or watched the sun setting over Budapest.
Her tears flowed into the Danube.
There are days on which I am all these women.
I would like to write a poem comparing myself
to a thunderstorm raging down the valleys,
battering the rocks, flattening the willow trees.
But today a raindrop could drown me. Today, a breeze
could tear me apart, send ragged bits of me flying
like white tufts of milkweed from the pod.
Hush. Don’t breathe, don’t speak, handle me gently.
Today, a word of yours, no matter how kind,
would be too hard to bear.
(The image is Portrait of Dora Maar with a Crown of Flowers by Pablo Picasso.)