You stand naked
alone in your room
like a cradle.
You step out
into the empty woods.
You’re flying

then a person appears, then another
until a crowd is around you.
Without clothes of your own
you don’t know how
to stop them from dressing you.
Uncertain, you stand still
as they pull dresses
from their heavy bags
yank them over your head.

With this new identity
you follow the crowd
even if the cloth itches
the sleeves are too tight
it’s too loose in the waist
the color turns your skin ashen.
You have boundaries, at least.
You’re contained, at least.
You start to forget
these clothes belonged to them.

Alone again at midnight
you take off those dresses
let the air be
your no-boundary.

When you go out in the morning
in those clothes you almost forgot
were hand-me-downs
you let them make the choices
that might have been different
in different clothes.

You’re still naked underneath.
One day, that nakedness will chafe
grow raw in the tight places
overheated in the loose
and then you’ll tear them off.


Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Ujjvala Bagal Rahn

Ujjvala Bagal Rahn’s Red Silk Sari (Red Silk Press, 2013) is her first collection of poems. Her work has appeared in journals such as Forkroads, Möbius: The Journal of Social Change, Frogpond, Zingara Poetry Review, and the upcoming issue of Third Wednesday. She was the featured poet in the inaugural broadcast of Poetry in the Air (Jan. 21, 2015, WHCJ, Savannah State University). She is the owner of Red Silk Press, a micropress of science fiction, science, poetry, and memoir. Red Silk Press has supported the Savannah Spoken Word Festival, Savannah Asian Festival, and Local Author Day (Flannery O’ Connor House).