Letter to a Friend

I hear, see, feel your complaint
And know it’s completely legitimate.
Unwanted male attention is annoying
And can be scary
As entitlement has been known to turn violent
When thwarted.
But still I wish
A phone number was all I received
From the construction workers
Outside *my* home.

What I got was a photo glued to the front of my building
Of a man in a women’s bathing suit
Looking just like the one I’d been wearing around my apartment
Because it was so damn hot
That August.

I kept the windows shut and my shades closed in my apartment
For nine months.
And when I dared to venture out and show myself
In the light of day
Male laughter would waft over the chain-link fence like the smell of hot creosote.

It’s been almost four years now
And still
Although my headphones are on
Whenever I pass by a construction site
I feel my muscles tense
And my jaw clench
As I walk a little faster, with more purpose.
That bathing suit
Sits in a bag at the back of my closet
Crumpled in on itself

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