High Heel

I was born, Mom says, bull's eye
Parfait, without a flaw--reflex
And one repro of fine she-sex--
All lash and rock-a-bye-

Full lids looking to close.
Slim collarbone, and rosebud pout,
I'm Queen without a Doubt
Of all hatched embryos.

Long may I reign with a spine
Perfected in its curvature's
Half curlicue and constant manicures
On two flat feet. I line

My ankles up and, see,
They propinquate. They roll until
They collapse. The missing insteps spill
From the slingbacks' nudity

And barest ties. So call
Me Mary Jane with a turf toe fetish.
I'm stacked. With three-inch-high coquettish
Stilettos, I'm Belle o' the Ball

And socket joint. There goes
High Heel. I've heard my ankles crack
And traced the point where I go black
To white on all ten toes

"High Heel" appears in Big-Eyed Afraid

(Top brown to bottom peach)
As if my foot's biracial. In
The lady's pump, I'm genuine
Sunday Best (Praise Jesus! Preach!).

I'm the club's platforms. And though
I'll never arabesque en pointe,
I stand, bipodal, to disappoint
With all this bod, dance the foe

's faux pas de deux with the full-
Length mirror. I'm patent, polished, buffed,
Strap-bound, and muled. I'm powderpuffed.
I'm pinched. With a push and pull,

I make my blisters pop
In a serous ooze. If I could name
The foot's small bones, I'd play a game
And count the talus, cop

The dice and cuneiform,
The mid-foot characters (the wedges
Somewhere beneath the thong's thin edges),
The cuboid, and linguiform

Long toes in dual tones.
My skeleton is narratory,
Completely born and half a story
Writ large in genes and bones.

by Erica Dawson

Erica Dawson's collection of poems, Big-Eyed Afraid (Waywiser, 2007), won the 2006 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2008, Alehouse Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other journals and anthologies. She lives in Cincinnati, OH.

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