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About Face by Alice Fulton

March 05, 1995

Because life's too short to blush,

I keep my blood tucked in.

I won't be mortified

by what I drive or the flaccid

vivacity of my last dinner party.

I take my cue from statues posing only

in their shoulder pads of snow: all January

you can see them working on their granite tans.

That I woke at an ungainly hour,

stripped of the merchandise that clothed me,

distilled to pure suchness

means not enough to anyone for me

to confess. I do not suffer

from the excess of taste

that spells embarrassment:

mothers who find their kids unseemly

in their condom earrings,

girls cringing to think

they could be frumpish as their mothers.

Though the late nonerotic Elvis

in his studded gut of jumpsuit

made everybody squeamish, I admit.

Rule one: the King must not elicit pity.

Was the audience afraid of being tainted

--this tub might rub off on me--

or were they--surrendering--

what a femme word--feeling

solicitous--glimpsing their fragility

in his reversible purples

and unwholesome goldish chains?

At least embarrassment is not an imitation.

It's intimacy for beginners,

the orgasm no one cares to fake.

I almost admire it. I almost wrote despise.

*

From "Sensual Math" by Alice Fulton. (Norton: $17.95; 128 pp.) copyright 1995 Reprinted by permission.

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