From under dashboards, behind swing doors,
_ _ dusting dirt from a silk-lined skirt, she emerges
_ _lipstick freshed, her modest bust immaculately
_ _buttoned up. O never was there vestal more demure
_ _ than ardent, pleasing she who urges
_ _carnal lures with such schemed subtlety
_ _to keep a peek discreet; all l’amours toujours
kept under wraps and off the books, purged
_ _ of leak or rumor, assiduously free
of exposé; the only tease or oo-la-la to be observed,
_ _one nylon run below the knee.
Hailey Leithauser is the author of two poetry collections: Saint Worm (Able Muse Press, 2019) and Swoop (Graywolf Press, 2013), which won the Poetry Foundation’s Emily Dickinson First Book Award and the Towson Prize for Literature. Her work has appeared in The Birmingham Poetry Review, 32 Poems, Cincinnati Review, The Hopkins Review, Plume, Poet Lore, AGNI, Alaska Quarterly Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, and The Yale Review. (updated 4/2023)
Leithauser’s AGNI poem “The Moon Speaks of Polar Bears” was chosen for The Best New Poets 2010.