May 2, 2017

The Tango Corset by Judith Skillman

I lean over cots to help the injured.
One man tried to grab
my lemon cup bust improver. One
bloodied face almost touched the spring
coiled inside a pad of horsehair.

I pulled back, leaving that soldier
with dumb eyes. The peach color
beneath my skirt shows only a little
as I lift my leg over the wheel,
and off I go. In the ward amputees scream.

I lean over again, and listen to birdsong,
smell—savor spring’s musk scents.
It’s not that I care to be a part
of history. Americana pulls
against an army of Edwardian curves.

I’m just a wholesome all-American girl,

the pin up of some movie star caught inside
a locker, brought without the wife’s consent
to that place the ocean goes
carrying ultramarine fevers in its waves.

Judith Skillman’s recent book is Kafka’s Shadow, Deerbrook Editions. Her work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Shenandoah, Zyzzyva, FIELD, and elsewhere. Awards include an Eric Mathieu King Fund grant from the Academy of American Poets. Skillman has done collaborative translations from French, Portuguese, and Macedonian. Visit <

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