Good dancing-girls wear grass skirts, I was led
to believe. My skirt is made of solid lead.
They stare dully at my skirt, my unflappable skirt,
the old men who are too ill to rise from bed:
once, I heard one wizened Welshman grumble,
“If fashion’s come to this, I may as well be dead.”
In these subterranean caves, we are all clothed
with sheets of metal; with barium salts, we’re fed.
As a child, I looped one end of a rope around my waist
and, with it, towed uphill a snow-caked sled;
now my hips are sore from the weight of . . . what?
The adult responsibilities that plague my tired head?
I hide behind my skirt, the way that we as kissing teens
hid behind your father’s fox-infested shed.
Jenna Le is a physician and educator and the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2018), which won second place in the Elgin Awards. Her poems and translations have been published by Barrow Street, The Brooklyn Rail, AGNI, Post Road, Salamander, and Sycamore Review. (updated 9/2019)