What is Love in Tennis, and What is Love
If there’s personality in how you jump, then I wonder about
how you fall. Down the rabbit hole into a man’s magazine:
girls stripped naked, rosy-cheeked, flushed out of middle school.
And no, sweetie, this isn’t a man’s world. They’re scared of how
we’re powerful with our Double Ds, beating them in games of croquet,
badminton, tennis, looking beautiful as we get work done
in the well-trimmed gardens. The stylist wouldn’t give me a blowing
white skirt. I’m naked. Who plays games without a sports bra?
And what is love in tennis, or love? My butt cheeks and arms
ready to play, swinging that racket like I’m about to paddle my man
in the bedroom, and I air-jump in white sneakers, ass facing net,
the centerfold’s maneuver, turning around, smiling
like I just spanked my man, begging for payback, the paycheck,
whatever you want to call my power, begging him to grab
the paddle again, knocking hard like I’m hitting a ball across the game
with no net, air-jumped, suspended—the camera catching me.
If there’s personality in how you jump, then I wonder about the way
you fall, caught suspended in mid-air, suspended in the moment
his blue eyes are looking back at you, you see yourself in them
as he’s suspended in the moment, touching your hair that’s tousled
across gray sheets, digging his hands deep into the strands, you gaze back
and you’re both looking oh so good, like strangers who just made love.
Nude from Here to Eternity
I want that Deborah Kerr From Here to Eternity
moment of he makes love to me on the beach,
sand tickling my feet, getting into my bikini
as the wave commands,
and he declares his love for me.
A pack of crabs attack, trying to get
on our bodies, but he brushes them away,
because I’ll allow him to be the manly hero
just this once. The camera zooms out.
In the beach house, I spin a record with one hand,
crotch against the couch, looking at him,
imagining he’s still rubbed up against, into me
when I grab him, letting him know
I’m in charge, and the music keeps playing—
the silence means more, not like in Fast Times
when the music starts and Damone fucks Stacy Hamilton,
“Somebody’s Baby” in her poolhouse—
what is it with teens and beach houses—
not knowing he’s the only virgin in the room,
and he leaves once he gets the epiphany but she doesn’t.
Crotch against the couch, I look at the photographer,
feeling like the virgin in the town when he tells me,
“act natural,” and I flip myself, unbutton my shirt.
If poolhouses are about fucking before curfew,
grinding into each other
until your older brother gets home,
and your friend catches him masturbating in the bathroom,
then poolhouses are also about the unbuttoning,
the playful. I switch the record,
my legs open as scissors, my hands reach around
head on the ground, legs opening
enticing someone to throw me over,
calm me down,
let the placid speak for itself—us,
our bodies against each other. The music stops.
Dorothy Chan is the Assistant Editor of The Southeast Review. She was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship and a 2016 semi-finalist for The Word Works’ Washington Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Spillway, Little Patuxent Review, Dialogist, and Hinchas de Poesia. In 2012, she was nominated for a Pushcart.