Tall Naked Ships in Spike Heels
Never go to the strip club with your boyfriend and his friends
on a Saturday night, just to prove to everybody
that you are not afraid.
The strippers will bloom like sinuous fruit
from the ceiling, rippling their way down onto the stage.
You, too, are female; that’s where the similarities end.
Sitting by the bar while the men sit up close to the stage,
you scribble a poem on a napkin.
They wave their dollar bills like flags.
The strippers have no interest in you; you look but don’t tip.
They saunter past, tall naked ships in spike heels,
their bodies conspiracies of lean circles.
Never watch him watching her, the blond with the nipples like saucers,
moving unabashed on the stage, moving
as though it were an accomplishment to be female.
Above all, never, ever compare,
never weigh your too much here, your too little there,
your womanhood more happenstance than achievement.
It will make you ache for the eyes in the room.
It will make you storm the stage,
shedding clothes like dead skin
make you swivel a flawed hip, move your graceless legs
and show them: Those aren’t women
— This is.
Jennifer Williamson grew up in Vermont. She went to college in upstate New York, and has been living in Philadelphia for the past few years. She’s had her work featured in Interact Theatre’s “Writing Aloud” series, and has won prizes for poetry from the Academy for American Poets and NPR. She is a freelance copywriter by day, and by night can be found at open readings and theatre auditions throughout the Philadelphia area.