He likes to pay but he likes it, too,
when I am loose, and while my wallet waits
on the table with the rest for the waiter to return,
he plucks mine up, brandishes my license, he cannot get enough

of this magic trick. Look how different she looks, isn’t it crazy?
My friend and his wife, full-bellied and content, smile
as my boyfriend pulls it back, staring at it, staring
at me. He has only known me short-haired and winsome,

but here I am, preserved: dirty hair and a jaw
that could cut glass, he asks aloud, again, what is it
that makes you seem so different now? I can’t quite—
I cut my hair and I gained thirty pounds, and I left

California and the man holding my purse
while I took that picture, holding my hand before that
in line, always holding me too close, it hurt,
but then, everything hurt then, and he,

this man now, who only knows me full
and softer to the touch can’t know. What I burned down,
what I built up to be here. There is no easy
song for it, nothing for a dinner table,

but he is human to wonder. I understand.
It’s not unkindness that makes him ask, he doesn’t know
this woman under plastic crowned with the bear
of Golden State and backdropped in blue, wide-eyed,

starving. He drapes his arm over my shoulder
that holds him up and tells me
and all our friends he thinks
I look happier now.



Jennifer Funk