When I see someone approaching whom I can’t read or recognize,
I refer to the mantra of my stripper friend.
She recites a pep-talk of self-weaponization
for a person of average strength.
Her professional naked person’s psalm goes like this:
(I may be paraphrasing)
I have soft spots in my neck and my head.
I have hard edges on my teeth
and my knees and my nails.
If I bleed I can get blood in their eyes.
If they bleed I can open their wounds.
Are there scabs? Are there old scars to aggravate?
What are you REALLY talking about?
I have fear that makes the body quick and strong.
You have fear that makes the mind fragile and careless.
I have fear and you have fear.
Soft spots, soft spots.
(Strippers have the supernatural advantage of knowing how to be naked.
I admire her because I have no such strength.
I bundle up in the desert.)
She says that unavoidably, the mantra collides
with sense-memory of sex, recent or pined after:
Soft and hard. Stops and starts. Tease and release.
Like a mean kiss, a corruption.
Someone does something savage to you
and then something nice to you,
in a loop, a little death dispersed.
Sex is a power, a natural force made by any body
with the mass to exert gravity.
And then the moment passes, because
you will never meet that person again.
Okay, hi, bye.
And then you’re by yourself, speaking out loud to no one.
She goes on:
And then I just dance til my mind settles.
My core style is jazz. I ain’t into ballet. Hard on the toetips.
But I try to pirouette like Prince, ‘cos his spins were perfect.
puppeted by a higher power on angelhair strings. That’s my shit.
I don’t act out what the song is saying.
Dancing is not literal,
it does not make words
or events make more sense.
I try to bring myself to the point when you’re committed to cry,
to come, to confess, and I spin there for as long as the song goes.
I have a few favorite songs that fit;
Lazy like lying in the grass, pointless and sharp points
a song meant to remove clothing to,
solely for the fun of letting them fall,
showing yourself, however you are.
The old trick of picturing someone naked is a mnemonic gimmick
to let them across your lawn.
They are threat, and they could hold you together.
They could be someone you’ve met before.
But practically speaking,
they are wearing far too many clothes for you to know.