The saleslady grabs my right breast like
weighing it in the powdery
creases of her hand.
“Big for her age,” she simpers.
I try to hide behind a veil of white tissue paper
which nestles the bra like a precious present.
The store smells of Charlie,
this year’s perfume.
“We don’t want any training brassieres,”
my mother announces,
reminding me of training wheels on my old bike
which was too big and once ran over my brother’s
right index finger.
The carpet in the dressing room
is the same pink blood of my first period.
The bras the saleslady brings could be
I crave lace, flowers.
My mother demands “support.”
The saleslady makes me bend to my waist,
my breasts hanging like half inflated
The bra itches me the same say as the
black wool tights I wear to school.
What I see in the mirror:
two Styrofoam cones.
My mother cries, “This is how I’ll feel at your wedding,”
and scrambles to find a Kleenex.
The saleslady’s fingers push and pull
red polished nails like claws.
If these are what breasts are for,
I don’t want them.
I unhook the contraption,
throw it on the floor,
and hug my old undershirt.
“Leave me alone,” I shout
and even the dressing room curtains
seem to shiver.
B. Altman closed years ago.
A husk of a great building
rotting on Madison Avenue.
The old saleslady probably dust as well.
One day I will bring my own daughter
to buy her first brassiere.
The department store dressing room
will be fragrant with this year’s perfume.
The saleslady young and hip.
Yet still there will be shame
on my daughter’s face,
as she shrugs off her undershirt,
cupping her own breasts for warmth.