Holiday 2014 - THE POTOMAC

Two Poems

   Laura Shovan

Cold War

Outside, the crew dresses
a Baltimore street —
tail-finned Chevys, parking meters made over.

Housewives in hats and pearls adjust gloves
on their way to a nonexistent church.
The camera sees 1952.

Lining my street-side trailer,
rows of pencil skirts and bullet bras,
knee-length crinolines, satin bed jackets.

I'm costumed down to the crotch.
My first nude scene and this 21st century carpet
doesn't match their '50s décor.

Bikini waxes don't jibe
with Cold War yonis, Honey,
my dresser winks.

She has a triangle of curls
in her palm. She tells me
it's called a merkin.

Her fingers press
my pubic bone,
glue the hair in place,

as if I have to play this role
down to the follicles
to reach the red carpet.

I'm going to knit myself a merkin —
atomic orange, hotter than the glue my dresser heats
to attach this wig.

When they say, "Rolling,"
I'll roll down my boxy briefs
and unveil a vulva

so ahead of its time, the whole crew
will duck and cover from the heat
I'm radiating.


Language Arts

No one would speak it.
In seventh grade, the rumor
of that word passed

down the lockered hall.
Boys pressed against the wall
in threes and fours, opposite

our Language Arts teacher,
languid in his bright door.
Boys we chased last year

on the playground—
Brian, Robert and Matt—
who squatted with us

behind the bushes at recess,
all our knees dirty
from hunting frogs.

Why wouldn't they tell us
what it was?
They would only say

it stood for two things:
an organ of the female body
and a curse,

a word you'd call a woman
who deserved your hate.
That's all they gave up.

The boys who knew us before
wanted to think we did not know
our own bodies, that no one

would say the word to us
deep in the throat, behind the bleachers,
where it was wet from rain.

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