Because life's too short to blush,
I keep my blood tucked in.
I won't be mortified
by what I drive or the flaccid
vivacity of my last dinner party.
I take my cue from statues posing only
in their shoulder pads of snow: all January
you can see them working on their granite tans.
That I woke at an ungainly hour,
stripped of the merchandise that clothed me,
distilled to pure suchness
means not enough to anyone for me
to confess. I do not suffer
from the excess of taste
that spells embarrassment:
mothers who find their kids unseemly
in their condom earrings,
girls cringing to think
they could be frumpish as their mothers.
Though the late nonerotic Elvis
in his studded gut of jumpsuit
made everybody squeamish, I admit.
Rule one: the King must not elicit pity.
Was the audience afraid of being tainted
--this tub might rub off on me--
or were they--surrendering--
what a femme word--feeling
solicitous--glimpsing their fragility
in his reversible purples
and unwholesome goldish chains?
At least embarrassment is not an imitation.
It's intimacy for beginners,
the orgasm no one cares to fake.
I almost admire it. I almost wrote despise.
From "Sensual Math" by Alice Fulton. (Norton: $17.95; 128 pp.) copyright 1995 Reprinted by permission.