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  • Cecil Morris

What Do Women Want?

Updated: Mar 18

By Cecil Morris

First period and I have reached the knight’s charge

in the wife’s tale: what do women want?  And I stop

the reading and close the book and ask the question 

and ignore the boys who smile and wave.  I call

a girl and she looks cornered but says, whispers really,

chocolate?  Another, looking around and raising her hand,

says sleep, more sleep and now laughter ripples the air.

Another volunteers: to never have to shave again ever.

And now girls’ hands go up around the room, even

the quiet girls’ hands, and answers tumble forth:

true love, money, to eat everything and gain no weight,

to see through every lie.  And then the musical

interlude from a theater girl—R-E-S-

P-E-C-T—which wins applause.  And then, last,

from the shyest girl: that red dress.  The room goes still

and I know, know, these girls at 17

already know.  I wave the boys off, resume

the reading, and think of Chaucer and Otis

and Aretha and Kim Addonizio,

so many voices, so many things to want.


Cecil Morris retired after 37 years of teaching high school English in Roseville, California, and now he tries writing himself what he spent so many years teaching others to understand and (he hopes) to enjoy.  He has poems appearing or forthcoming in Ekphrastic Review, English Journal, Hole in the Head Review, Rust + Moth, Sugar House Review, and other literary magazines.

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