In this body, I store all of my books.
I have no room for cleverness, Naomi. No room left to be patient.
On my computer, an American man at a rally screams the word cunt.
(I tie back my hair before I write to you. I roll up my sleeves.)
You’ve seen this man before, too.
We’ve both known him our whole lives.
I ran into him once in a nightclub in Washington.
Another time, four of him followed me to my car, the streetlamp broken above us.
Would you like to borrow a book, Naomi?
The text I reach for first describes the side view of a girl.
(In this story, I flattened my stomach with my hands, to mitigate my profile.
Even when I was a girl, Naomi, I longed to disappear. )
The men see us everywhere, and they insist on seeing us.
But the library is yours: each of its creased pages is yours.
The first time I heard my name was in a supermarket parking lot in
My mother said never repeat that word. It is a terrible word just for a woman.
When I asked her the man’s name, she said he has none.
When I asked her what to call the man’s body, she said nothing.
I cannot fit this name in my mouth and still breathe.
Instead, I will write you another letter.
It begins and ends like this: Naomi. Naomi. Naomi.
==== ==== ==== ==== "The side view of a girl" comes from a line from a Sharon Olds poem, “Ode to the Female Reproductive System” from Odes.