A Woman’s Fetish

by Lise Whidden
criticalpoet.org
Second Place, May 2010
Judged by Fiona Sampson


I’ll only live with men who don’t know me,
men who are so confused by my language
that when I speak their facial expressions remind me
of visitors at my Grandmother’s church
when someone rose to speak in an unknown tongue.

I’ll only cook for men who kill doves
on opening day in sunflower fields,
smile in pictures with fish they’ve caught from oceans,
men who know all the words to a hymn
their mother hummed while hanging wash.

I’ll only sleep with men who whisper
short sentenced stories after lovemaking,
tales of wars, foolish summers and women who left,
men who drive Mustangs
after drinking a fifth of Wild Turkey.

I’ll only wash men’s clothes when they forget
beer bottle caps, phone numbers scrawled
on paper scraps in their pockets, undress leaving denim
turned inside out, throw change
pocketknives and bullets into a china cup on my dresser.

I’ll only listen to deep voiced men
who call me names spelled out in sugar
they spill on a kitchen countertop after opening the bag,
men who think long stemmed roses
make it all better, but don’t know geraniums will grow in any soil.


This is a delightfully unexpected poem. Though it takes the risk of being a one-idea piece, each strand of that idea is freshly realized and genuinely inventive. There’s a deft persona, but not a strenuous attenpt at “voice”. It’s a poem led by poetics – by the imperatives of form. And it’s funny because it’s inventive. A rare feat, it’s a winner because it’s so completely achieved. --Fiona Sampson

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