"Laverne, we would like to make a video of you reading your poetry on a horse farm." 

(note: there are no horses in this photo, only cows.) 

Of course, I said yes and dressed for the occasion. 

I always dress up for poetry readings. It is the most important work I do. I wore a black 40s style, cinched waist dress, heels and a hat, carried a backpack for my poetry and lipstick, and my music stand to hold my papers while reading. 

(note: wind) 

I read The Night I was the Woman in the Red Tights and Black Mini Dress, a poem about the pursuit of a one-night stand. It explores missed opportunity and the labeling of women who enjoy touch as a whore and a slut and I wonder, “What do we call such men?”

Several issues were addressed in the poem. In the video, “The Southern Sex,” they cut to the last stanza, a close up on my face where I say, 

"So I said yes
yes I want to
I want to be a whore
and touch
just pure touch
no dinner
no drinks
just touch.”

Frequently, people come up to me and say, "You know I was in a hotel in Kansas City (or somewhere) channel surfing and I saw you in a video." 

I smile. I know the choice for the close up missed the point of the poem. I am not flustered. I had said what needed to me said.

That was in 1983. I don't know if I feel like I still have the same freedom to be so cavalier with my words. Things have changed. I am more cautious in my golden years.

(note: I am hesitant to use the word golden) 

I prefer Christiane Northup’s suggestion of the ageless goddess; she who “rejects ageism and owns her beauty.”

I’ve become more aware of the power of statement dressing. Now is the time to claim our power with the stance we take. Words often have a limited audience. The poem stays tucked away, waiting for publication. When you dress to be seen, a statement is made as soon as you walk into the room. You know your statement because you have already written your story.  You have asked yourself the question, “Who do I want to be?” To publish is to make public. Your statement poem is published every time you are seen.

I am

who I am

is who I am. 

As I explore dress in my past and my present, I can’t help but think that it makes a difference, and that the way we dress is, not only for ourselves, it is for those around us. Be precise in what gets shared. Be unapologetic in your feminine expression from the inside out. Follow your natural curvilinear lines; eliminate crew necks, embrace v-neck or slightly scooped. Never apologize for who you are. Stand tall.  Every raw and ecstatic experience of life that has preceded this moment has created the women you have become.

Wear what you are afraid to wear. 
Your statement will be bold.

(Note: There was no dinner, no drinks, no touch that night.)

My mind had become my sex. My mind is what turned me on. I was in pursuit of a poem.

The complete poem:

The Night I was the Woman in the Red Tights and Black Mini Dress

“Good girls don’t”
so I did
I’m tired of being a “good girl” all the time

it was six years ago
he was the star
and he asked me
me? I had thought
not that I wasn’t trying to be attractive
even a little sexy
so I smiled
and he invited me to dinner

then I started thinking
you know how men are
they only want “one thing”
and “good girls” don’t give “it” to them
even if they wanted to
but I said no

I couldn’t
I just couldn’t
after all what would my mother say
and the priest
or my husband
heavin’ forbid?

they would all call me a whore
or even worse
a prostitute

what’s the difference?
a whore does it for fun
a prostitute does it for money

you know
sorta as in
being married
and he works hard for the money
and she gives him the “they only want one thing” thing

so I had to say no
and I’ve regretted it all these years

what would it have been like? I wondered
you know how it is
when there is something you really want
and you imagine it
and fantasize it
and then one day
the opportunity actually presents itself
and you turn it down!

the pits!

so last week-end
there I was
nearing the possibility
that the opportunity might present itself
one more time

I really doubted it
I was six years older now
he would certainly be more interested in the younger women
I wore my red tights and black min dress anyway

and then he did
he asked me

this is it
this is the “moment you’ve been waiting for” moment

so say it
say yes
you know you want to

“You asked me that same question six years ago”
I reminded him

“And what was your answer then? He asked

“I’d like to think you’d have remembered
if my answer had been yes”
I said and knew then where I was headed

so say it
say yes
you know you want to

“I don’t have any birth control,” I said instead
and he did

“I didn’t shave my legs”

“No problem”

so say it
just go ahead and say it
say yes
you know you want to

so I did
I said yes
yes I want to
I want to be a whore

and touch
just pure touch
not dinner
no drinks
just touch.

PS Nothing happened that night other than conversation. It was a poem I was pursuing.