When Lucille Bogan Sings “Shave ’Em Dry”

By  |  March 23, 2017
Photograph courtesy of Unsplash Photograph courtesy of Unsplash
I blush quicker than a school of blue jack mackerel
arranging itself into an orb of dazzle to avoid
nips and gulps from the dolphins whove been silently
trailing them, waiting for them to relax. When I hear
her growl—her scratch-thirst and giggle when she drops
swear words pressed to wax—I cant even look him
in the eye when I ask him to give it a good listen
with me. But he does, ever patient, and we both get
a light bless of sweat on, a bright address that still maps
us to each other after all this time. When I read him
the lyrics, the pink of my cheeks is like the pink   
of an orchid mantis. Just when you least expect it,
the pretend flower will reach out and snatch a butterfly
from the air. When I say flower I mean what her song
does in the cicada-electric Mississippi night. When I say
pink I mean nectar I mean a long kiss good and sweet.

 Aimee Nezhukumatathil reads “When Lucille Bogan Sings ’Shave ’Em Dry”


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  • Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Lucky Fish. Her honors include a Pushcart Prize and a fellowship from the NEA. She is poetry editor of Orion and was the 2016-17 Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi's MFA program.