Woman Turned Inside Out

by Alysse Kathleen McCanna

The doctor asks
               if it’s okay
                              for the intern
                                             to be in the room

Girl says yes because she is young
doesn’t want to displease, disrupt

The room is white, glinting metal caught
in florescence, half-closed shades
betraying a litter-strewn park

This is what a healthy pink
               vagina looks like

                              the doctor says
                                             to the intern

Girl will hold this compliment
inside for a long time

even when, as Woman, her hands are raw-
pink from dishy soapwater, her body strange,
turned inside out like a housewife’s yellow gloves

like a blossom or a wallet
               or a womb, a nicer word
                              than uterus—too raw,
                                             too empty, such a nicer word


than matrix or mold, pear or purse. Why
pink? Why is pink compliment?

A man she loved, of goodish devillooks,
said he loved her pink and also her mind
but what he really meant was I am lucky you are

so blind to the bruise
               that is my love

                              sting-pink and singing
                                             high note of honor

Woman standing in line at the gas station
smells the aftermath of a cologne so

familiar yet untraceable
that she flees, throws up
in the parking lot

Asphalt home to half-cigarettes,
               Styrofoam, now the body’s memory:
                              pink on the blacktop
                                             bird flown from cage

the body’s language, a shout
that becomes a kind of singing.

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