A response to Kim Addonizio’s poem “What Do Women Want?”
I want respect.
I want to command awe
and create a series of symphonies
of “Yes ma’am” with a flick of my wrist.
I want it mixed with a bucket of admiration
and a pinch of groveling,
so no one ever questions whether I deserve it.
I want to walk down the street
past the kids on their bikes
with no place to go,
past the bars spilling out
slovenly drunks always searching,
past the eyes that follow as I turn the corner
and put distant declarations of love behind me.
I want to walk
like I’m the only woman on earth
who knows how to part the crowd
and tear through it gracefully.
I want to be the reason other women
rise to emulate that action.
I want respect more than you can imagine.
I want to confirm
what I already know about myself.
And when I get it,
I will cling to it
so tightly that I will have,
by strength of will,
tattooed it on my skin,
a part of me that was not given but earned.