Rio: A Journal of the Arts


Shanti Weiland


Obsession in the Ladies' Room


You might think I fell into dancing,
that one day my kid got sick
or some pusher demanded payment
upon receipt--
That's not it, though.
I planned it.
One deliberate step, then the next.

As a child, I watched Playboy bunnies
on TV.  One blonde, she waitressed,
shiny blue bunny suit, breasts spilling
and caught by silk
wrapped tight to skin.
Men ordered vodka, lobster,
help up a palm when the cure of her
backside turned.
I wanted her thighs, rich and netted,
dolphin-shine against soft lighting,

but I ended up here.
Strobes and beating
Men watch my stomach, run knuckles
down their lips and think too hard.
I am distanced, understand,
in control of them,

but you touched my hair.
Out there you were dressed in a suit,
your tie prompt and wallet ready.
But hair is personal.
You fingered it as if it were snow.

I'm a show, a camel in the desert.
Hair is my reserve,
the familiar I give to trust,
not to you.

You can see now in this harsh lighting,
there's no mystery to me here.
I am my hair, blond and stringy,
dark roots, sweaty at the tips.
My flesh isn't rubber and resilient,
and I'll knock you flat.



more by Shanti Weiland