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Kim Addonizio

(July 31, 1954 / Washington, D.C)

What Do Women Want?


I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what's underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I'm the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,
it'll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003
Edited: Thursday, June 30, 2011

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Comments about this poem (What Do Women Want? by Kim Addonizio )

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  • Terence George Craddock (10/10/2012 11:00:00 PM)

    A beautiful expression of an individuals defiance of conformity and norms of social expectation. Written with courage skill defiance and the skill of a talented artist. (Report) Reply

  • elizaBeth Benson-Udom (1/11/2009 2:52:00 PM)

    yes
    luscious yes, yes, yes, yes, yes-
    i love this red dress image and the taking back of a sacred feminine
    gorgeous! thank you! (Report) Reply

  • Travis DeRali (8/11/2005 10:59:00 AM)

    Wow... what a great, great poem. I love it! I sent it to a lover in a red dress, and she felt the same way... in fact, she said that she owned a dress just like the one in the poem. The imagery is great, the descriptions dead on... grrrr.... can you get a crush on a woman in just twenty-seven lines? ;) (Report) Reply

  • Karima Isaacs (10/12/2004 7:51:00 AM)

    LOVE IT! The red dress. The colour of her rage. 'they' try to box us in, as women, try to make us NOT go for what we want, what our hearts desire, they try to calm us down, kill the fire in us. All by making us feel shame that we have no need to feel. So, yes, I think all women must want that dress at some point in their lives. (Report) Reply

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