The daring, naked beauty of the changing rooms. It flops and bulges, full breast, full bush. An unruly bouquet. Wild, flowering pubic hair and pink areola. The damp cloth of swimming costume unhooked, clinging around navels like loose skin. Shapely thighs, legs, a spidery tattoo of veins. Flat-chested school girls observe with wonder at the specimens. Older women wearing caps, pendulous breasts and wiry mane stuck to unmentionable places. Teenagers rolling g-strings over peach-like buttocks. The smell of chlorine in their noses, the wet floor under small feet. Oh! (they think) we could never be so bold. A nipple, the pointed treasure of a stolen look. Little girls take such care to conceal themselves. This unclothed world must belong to an alien race, blending in once their bodies are hidden from the prying eyes of children.
Listen to Stephanie reading ‘Public pool, women’s changing room’ (1:20).
Stephanie Powell is a poet based in London, originally from Melbourne. Her prose-poems recall a girlhood in the suburbs, with all the tenderness, sometimes painful truth of growing up. In September 2019 her first collection of poetry, Strange Seasons, was published by Enthusiastic Press.
© text and audio 2020