I Met This Stripper In Dallas

She told me
she had a son.
We looked at photographs--small boy,
short pants, navy
squinting, saluting.
He might have had a bruise above his knee, it
could have been
her son.

She talked of going back to college, some day,
saving up a little cash, moving west
to San Francisco, and I said:
I come from San Francisco.

Inbetween, she wore a brown tweed jacket,
leather elbow patches, antler buttons, carved. My father
used to have a jacket something like it,
years ago. I touched my forehead to her back,
I synchronized my breathing
with her breathing, shut my eyes--wet leaves,
stubborn in a rusted oil drum, beginning to burn,
cigarette butts,
drowned inside a dying soldier, starting to bloom.
I showed her how to tie a Windsor knot, she told me
I was gentle, and sweet, and
I couldn't recall if it
had ever been true.

I liked
to hear the way she said her words: unhurried,
undervalued. When she talked, I remembered
living in El Paso--wide streets, open desert two doors down--small boy,
creeping in the desert. Capturing snakes, setting snakes free.
Once, it snowed--tumbleweed
trajectories marked across the front yard; all the Kennedys
safe, young,

She called to me (while dancing, barefoot

on a piece of plywood painted
flat black),

almost naked of course, she


whispered (her words, lost to me),
cupped my face
in her hands (my
hands, hanging at my side), she

kissed my cheek.
I kissed her temple, through her hair, we

met at Denny's, in the overcast, the motionless damp
before dawn.
The way she touched
the photographs, it could have been
her son.


silent in the distance--grey, green--

off-duty cops,
black automatics half-encased
in shiny black webbing, half-secured
in polished black leather, half

ancient negro nodding off inside the men's room, selling aftershave,
selling french ticklers,

sound of gravel in the parking lot under
balding Goodyears, under leather soles, deliberate footsteps,

slam of screen door, the
setting sun, fine grey dust like cement
on my boots,

ultraviolet lighting,
the smell of rain but
no rain falling.

JDP 97/08

Copyright John D Porter © 1997

Published in Agnieszka's Dowry Vol. 7 in the Fridge Magnets

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