Alejandra C. Chavez

This is how I want to look when I’m naked

Dirty clothes go here
written on white paper
on the basket
in their closet.
What does that tell us?
That he, even then, flung his worn clothes
on the carpet.

What are you staring at, ex-wife,
in this photograph?
Is it because you’re naked?

I imagine you were home alone, or
son and daughter soundly napping.
And he, where was he?
How did you take this picture?

He was at work, I imagine.
You did that thing new brides do,
to swoon the husband, to keep
the spark
of love
alive. Some others bake.
Not you. Not I.

I don’t blame you
for looking away.
We never know
where these things end up.
Sometimes, nosy girlfriends find
archives of the past.

I like your approach. Simple. Quick.
But this isn’t how I want to look
when I’m naked.

I would, first, pick the toys off the carpet.
Vacuum a little—vacuum twice,
erasing Nazca lines
drawn by bristles.

I’d find the corner in the closet
with the best lighting. Maybe even try
opening the door, allowing natural light in.
This brown skin of mine
requires it.

I would arrange the coats hanging on the rod
by color. Hang tank tops off the floor.
Help stranded shoes find their sole-
mates, line them up on the floor like soldiers.

I would check that the lens wasn’t clouded
by fingertips, dust particles, hot
breath.

I would exit the closet.

Find a room where the kids aren’t sleeping.
No not the bathroom, not my style.
Where am I going with this?

To the garden. Yes. To the garden.

This is how I want to look
when I’m naked—

The neighbors point,
sternly say to me:

This isn’t your past. You don’t live here.

Author's Bio:

Alejandra C. Chavez is a candidate for the MFA in Poetry at UC Riverside. Her poetry is haunted by the memory of home and she travels to Guadalajara, Jalisco any chance she gets. She has been published in Mujeres de Maiz, Hinchas de Poesia, and East Jasmine Review.