One day she was scratching her back
with her own left foot and somebody
commented. That was the start of it.
The spandex and spangles followed,
the boyfriends who amazed themselves
against her pliancy. And always
the show-stopping smile, the sense
that someone should be filming this,
the sense that when she righted herself
and walked out of the bedroom or the circus tent
she was just like you or me—a little bit happy,
a little bit used. It became a game.
Was there an angle or a shape
she wouldn't attempt? As far as she was
concerned, the Kama Sutra
might as well be the hokeypokey.
But the men were never her match.
They were just counterweight
and fumbling—an inability to endure
the pleasures that bloomed around her
like black-eyed Susans on a summer hillside,
undiminished by the local flower arranger
who takes his pick each morning.
Charles Rafferty's eleventh collection of poems is The Smoke of Horses (forthcoming from BOA Editions). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, O, Oprah Magazine, and Prairie Schooner, and are forthcoming in Ploughshares. His stories have appeared in The Southern Review and Per Contra, and his story collection is called Saturday Night at Magellan's. Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College.