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”

 

Unable to embed Rapid1Pixelout audio player. Please double check that:  1)You have the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.  2)This web page does not have any fatal Javascript errors.  3)The audio-player.js file of Rapid1Pixelout has been included.

Enjoy this poem? Subscribe to the Oxford American

 

  • Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s newest book is a collection of illustrated nature essays, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments. She is also the author of four books of poetry, most recently Oceanic, winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award. She is professor of English and creative writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program. Nezhukumatathil was recently named a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow in poetry.

More from Aimee Nezhukumatathil