The Shirt

Compulsive shopping in the East Village
on a binge, on a budget, grabbing
plastic bags stuffed with shirts
sizes sixteen, seventeen and a half
thirty-three, who thinks up these numbers,
what ever happened to medium,
extra-large, I have no money,
I have no idea what size,
I want to give you something.

A shirt made for roping, for milking,
for riding, a shirt to die for—
sleeves too long the neck
too wide, faux mother-of-pearl snaps
on white polyester with extra sheen,
and like medals of courage
two pink and blue embroidered patches
by the shoulders that I’ll have to point out to you
because by the time I get around to giving it
you’ll be blind.

Not Christmas or your birthday
it’s a no special occasion gift,
a way for you to feel me holding you
my skin over your skin
your wrist my neck your back
because I can’t be there
to watch you die—
you open it and wear it once
shove it
in the bottom of your closet
until the day you lay
with your eyes shut,
a bandana tying your mouth closed,
the creaky parquet floor now silent
while I creep around
with a lit candle, opening doors, until
I finally find it and take it
along with two crystals
a book, a dog’s tooth,
and a file marked prison.

I just can’t bring myself to give it
to the Salvation Army even though
I have no use for it now
just as you had no use for it then—
you hang on a wire in my closet.

 

by Donna Kaz

 

donna-kaz.jpgDonna Kaz is a multigenre writer and a feminist activist based in New York City. She has written for Ms. Magazine, RoleReboot, Words of Choice, Bust, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, The Dramatist, Long Island Literary Journal, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Ful Art magazine, Girl Drive Blog, Lilith, Gender Across Borders, and Step Away Magazine (Pushcart prize nomination). For her work creating activist art she has received the Yoko Ono Courage Award for the Arts, the Skowhegan medal, Art is a Hammer Award and an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant. Her book, UN/MASKED, Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl On Tour (Skyhorse) was named best nonfiction prose book of 2017 by Devil’s Kitchen Literary Festival. donnakaz.com @donnakaz

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