after Siri Hustvedt
It’s wrong, I know.
Not the watching, but the wanting
to be the one watched: the woman,
if not the man who wants her,
who I want. I want him
to look at me
the way I catch him
look at her, subtle,
so as not to bother her
with his desire. But she notices.
Women do. Have to.
And I notice her noticing,
because I sit where I sit
opposite them in this subway car.
He asks for directions.
She gives them, returns
his smile and then,
still smiling, to her book.
It might be important to mention
he’s handsome. The paint
on his boots. That I can’t know
what it’s like. He gets off first.
Men do. I watch her look
over the top of her book at him
looking back at her
as he exits, smiling to herself.
Every time someone I know
shows me she’s
a woman, I’m jealous.
It’s wrong, I know
gender isn’t a question
of who’s looking, but I don’t know
what it’s asking. What I am. All my life
I’ve thought about it.
All my life I’ve been thinking of men.