Full Measure of a Woman by Jean Hackett


As a child I aspired to be a cloud,

gauzy cool, incorporeal, composed

of frozen particles,

illusionary, distant, and calm,

the wistful portrait

of look-but-don’t-touch beauty.


A few years later I strode the gauntlet,

shrink-wrapped skin

laméd into taut fabric,

illusionary, distant, and calm,

the stage-painted portrait

of look-but-don’t-touch beauty.


Never a child of God,

I lived unafraid 

He would beat me

for thoughts or actions

unsanctioned or impure.


Yet society shamed me

until I felt greater comfort

with atomic collisions 

inside the Hadron Collider,

than sweaty encounters of the fleshy kind,

smoky, on the dancehall floor.


When I achieved an age

more susceptible to temptation

by thick, frosted brownies

than sleepy chocolate eyes,

I did not grieve the loss

of self-denied ripeness

until animal-scented words


the full measure of a woman.