It is also possible to interpret the narrator's re-entry into life not literally but figuratively. Notice that she says, "I seem to re-enter the world." The use of the verb "seem" emphasizes the sense of re-engagement, not literal re-engagement. She continues:
I first began
A small, fixed dot, still see
that old myself, a dark-blue thumbtack
pushed into the scene,
a hard little head protruding
from the pointillist’s buzz and bloom.
She sees her former self as "small" and "fixed," like a dot within a pointillist painting. This indicates that she never felt insignificant, as each dot is necessary to create a full image in a pointillist work, but that she felt like a small part of a whole. It is possible that the narrator is referring to herself during girlhood. When we are children, we are aware of our smallness, but as a girl, the narrator was very firm about who she was, a characteristic that she describes with the metaphor "a dark-blue thumbtack." "A hard little head" could refer to childhood stubbornness.
After her transformation into womanhood, the image changes, becomes distorted even:
After a time the dot
begins to ooze. Certain heats
Now I was hurriedly
blurring into ranges
of burnt red, burning green,
whole biographies swam up and
swallowed me like Jonah.
Outside forces cause her to lose the firmness of her past self. Her "blurring" is the result of trying to conform to other lives, other people's expectations ("whole biographies").
She becomes a myriad of others in one body: Wittgenstein, Mary Wollstonecraft, and "the soul" of the actor Louis Jouvet, but "dead in a blown-up photograph." She cannot capture a spirit that is not her own, only a reflection.
After being nearly consumed ("wolfed almost to shreds") by others' expectations, she "learned to make [herself] unappetizing." This means that if she stops turning herself into an object of consumption, others will stop consuming her. Now, she is free to use herself: "let nothing use me."
The life that she has left is hers alone, and it is for her "name over the bare necessities." If she can become good at deciding on what she needs, she thinks that she will move through the world with more agility ("trenchant in motion as an eel") and regain the solidity lost in early womanhood ("solid as a cabbage-head").
The community that awaits her is an open one ("a field"). She likens the houses there to "old women knitting, breathless to tell their tales." The simile indicates a candor she is likely to achieve later in life with "practice." She will be able to engage with that community when she can identify ("now and again to name over") her bare necessities.