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A Photograph of Her Showering

by Elizabeth Langemak


As passionless, burned-out, dusty shells, we dislike love poems . . . As [one of our editors] says, why not “text me a photograph of her showering”?

I am enclosing, as text, the photo
you ask for. Though my husband

refuses, I make this in secret
and print it black over white. Though

the angles and lighting are tough
to nail down, and the process

makes my whole body a long face
for tears as the spray breaks over

my scalp and rolls down.
Though my right hand withers,

as I rake damp hair into rows.
Though the cheap curtain cleaves

to my thigh, I peel it off like a rind
teased from its fruit in one strip.

You thought I was dusty, a shell.
You said I was burned out,

but now my skin is slapping and slick,
the camera demanding more arch

and frontal. When I read your note
I was spitting with anger. I could

not get your eyes off my nipples,
my breasts, but now I make you

this square handful of edges,
a black-and-white chip where my ass

hangs over tan lines like a sun
without set, where stretch marks

like fault lines ride over each thigh
and a pocked scar stabs into my shoulder.

Once I knew men like you and tried
to be sexy but in the shower

I only got soaked. On the bed
where I practiced I only looked

posed. In cabins on nights with your jars
full of scotch I hoped you might

see past what you saw and fuck me,
but now it seems we have both changed

our minds. Here I am. In a poem,
just breath-long, I am perfect.

I send you this picture because
a photo of showering is just wet

and sex, but the poem lays down
its camera and hands me a towel,

knows the route I send it
over my calves, over my nape

and around. How many
flashes and clicks turn a love poem

around into only a woman to
fuck you? Fuck you.

 

Elizabeth Langemak lives in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Day One, Shenandoah, Colorado Review, and elsewhere. (12/2014)


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