Strip – Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

A think brown-haired girl pouts
high on stage. She cannot swing
her slight body round the new pole.
It runs floor to ceiling, piercing
the strip club like a shaft of light
the way the voice of God appears in movies.
Except this pole is plastic and God
would gurgle because it’s full of liquid
like a lava-lamp. The words would have to sploosh
up through bubbles
like burbs, one at a time like Jesus.

Is. Love. except the pole’s sealed
and there is no place for love to go
so the bubbles just keep on going up
and down and the girl
can’t get her hands around it.
She says she misses the jungle-gym type bar
this bubble bar replaced.
She anticipates missing the smell
of its metals on her hands after work.

Training me, she instructs
your thighs. Don’t touch your knees.
Keep both feet flat on the floor at all times.
Don’t do anything I do. She smiles
at the way everything is against some law.
I go on stage and the speakers spit
out the first lines of the song I picked:
I love myself/I want you to love me.
I dance for a man. He’s fifty, at least,
his wife beside him. But you’re beautiful,
she says like a mother comforting a taunted child,
like someone else’s mother. Mine said,
There is nothing
you can’t talk your way out of.

The bar’s dark and dollars scratch my skin.
when the next song starts I take off my bra,
my breasts covered, by Florida law,
with flesh brown tape. I wrap my arms, both legs
around the wide, bright pole,
spin slowly down to the floor.
Who else will pay for what he can’t see?
Like God, I’ve always been invisible

Excerpted from Bum Rush the Page

~ by Tichaona Chinyelu on January 25, 2012.

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