Naked in the Macy’s Changing Room Trying to Think of Anything Other Than the Election

Poem by Barbara Costas-Biggs


Before I was grown and called lovers
lovers. Before I was a mother and called
momma. Before I considered myself anything

I had a body: smaller, tighter, in flux
and full of flaws. Yet, always mine.
At eighteen, I slept with a boy I met

my first semester away from home.
I don’t think I liked him much
but he liked me and we moved in together.

His father was a Republican with state political
aspirations. I lived in Tucson, drove
an hour to Nogales to buy

birth control at a Mexican pharmacy.
No prescription, no questions, cheap.
I ate tamales from a street vendor

and brought homemade tortillas home,
stretched and cooked over a fifty-gallon drum.
My slippery mind might be confusing

parts of these memories.
I was stoned gin-drunk living
with a boy who told me, when

he first saw me naked: I wasn’t sure I’d like your body.
And when I got pregnant, told him, over
coffee, I’d made an appointment

for an abortion, he walked to the bank,
handed me $250. A few days later, I drove myself
to an appointment in an adobe strip mall.

On the table, wearing
one of his T-shirts, paint splattered,
the doctor asked me if I was an artist.

BARBARA COSTAS-BIGGS is the 2017 winner of the Split This Rock Abortion Rights Poetry Contest. Her work is forthcoming, or has appeared recently in Glass, Moria, Jarfly, Literary Mama, and others. She has also been a member the Juried poetry series: Women of Appalachia: Women Speak. She lives in Southern Ohio. This piece was previously published on Split This Rock.