Two Poems

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.

 

 

 

 

Issue #62 September 2016
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