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The Last of the Ptolemies

by Kate Lynn Schirmer

I chose it for lechery:
that slink of grasping motion
across a marble floor,

almost boneless,
a line without sex.
Its eyes winked at my painted nails

rubbing across its head,
over oilcloth skin
dry as figs in the sun.

Such a smooth stalk
rising begs to be touched.
And its name, seductive

to tooth and tongue:

There was, of course, its silence.
I like its way with secrets,
that smile always lipped tight.

Slick obelisk, pursuing every thigh
exposed, ringing any downy arm,
committed to no one.

But most of all I chose it for its bite:
the tart sting quickly overtaken
by a coursing bliss

spreading through the scalp, the knees,
like an opiate.
Not a violent venom, no spasm–

a considerate juice
injected as you shiver
when it coils around your neck;

and then you succumb
to sleep, as though
waking to arousal.


Kate Lynn Schirmer graduated from Princeton University in 2003 and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University in 2006.  She was co-winner of Columbia University's 2005 Academy of American Poets University Prize and recipient of the 2003 Morris W. Croll Poetry Prize.  She currently resides in San Francisco, where she is working on a book-length collection of poems. (4/2007)

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