Wednesday Poem

Her Body is Private

ppppppppppppppp in spite of all
the sweet inducements to disrobe
in the public eye, to sunbathe
in the hot glow of the spotlight (not be
forgotten for a minute, maybe two);
ppppppppppppppp in spite of all
the cash that flows to those
who wear their heart, not on their sleeve
in that old innocence, but on their naked
wrist, or butt, like a tattoo;
ppppppppppppppp in spite of all
emoluments, of shrinks who swear
that secrets eat the lining from the guts
and that the more you tell, the less
you burn in hells intestinal;
ppppppppppppppp in spite of all,
her memory, like her body, is
her own, and serpents guard it
like a tree with treasure in a myth;
if you approach, she'll turn
the blank side of her words, a shield
to the light, to fix your face
in the bright circle
of its mirror. This time Medusa
has the shield, and the last word.

by Eleanor Wilner
from Reversing the Spell: New & Selected Poems
Copper Canyon Press, 1998