Two Poems

Mother of Invention

 

Who first fashioned fishnet stockings,

wearable windows for the high-rise

of the female leg, these panes

that divide thighs into endless peepshows,

elasticated graphs, spanning ankles, knees,

and calves, that chart the unknown like sextants,

in their use of heavenly bodies?

 

It was neither punk nor prostitute

nor burlesque dancer,

neither derby queen nor stripper.

No cathouse madam or saloon gal,

Vegas waitress or the ones

with satin ears and the bunny tails.

 

Not the checkout girl, whose legs

do the shop owner’s standing,

or the secretary, too busy with her boss’

running around. Nor could it be

the housekeeper, on her feet so much,

she can no longer stand

up for herself.

 

Some say it was a woman,

mother to nothing but invention.

She lived by the river alone

and wished to fish for both dinner

and compliments at the same time.

 

Others credit fishermen for their creation,

perhaps on a day when their bare-breasted

figurehead was indifferent to the waves

that threw themselves at her and

nets caught nothing but water.

 

I’d like to think it was a mermaid

with no use for the hosiery’s makeshift scales,

one who defines human females

by what’s between their “double-tails,”

sees legs as but a means to move it

from man to man. She knows

too well that a kiss comes

from the same place as a curse,

that we also piss from the place

where we love.

 

Artifact of unacknowledged ingenuity,

these stockings, whose inventor remains

a mystery, or if nothing else, a painful reminder

of the ocean’s glass ceiling.

 

 

 

 

The Butcher Coat

 

His white coat is Polyblend peak is summit stiff is snowstorm

is ice expanding asphalt in the pothole of memory, is still

thawing

is blizzard brocade, is crocheted, is crystal counted cross stitch

needling the night sky

is kiss goodbye in a buried bedroom bunker

is powder is flake is goodnight in a paper plate kitchen

is the crunch-brunch-lunching of Styrofoam

is steel-toed punch

through crusts of snow

is boot salt-grayed like Ash Wednesday come early

is glacier is Great Lake is window open to flurry is

slipper is snowshoe is sled is iceberg bearing me

on its back, hardpacked and squalling

on the waves, is me shrinking in his coat

in a whiteout is only the lighthouse

that sees my collision is me

in a white coat on the water

is father is floodlight is breakwall breached by waves.

 

 

 

 

Cindy King’s work has appeared in in Callaloo, North American Review, African American Review, American Literary Review, jubilat, Ruminate, Cortland Review, River Styx, TriQuarterly, Cimarron, Black Warrior, Barrow Street, The Pinch and elsewhere. She has received a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Agha Shahid Ali scholarship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Currently she lives in Utah, where she is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Dixie State University and editor of Route 7 Review.

 

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