Oh Annie! I hang your portrait in every place I call home. Your eyes follow me, pin me down. Like you know something I don’t. I can’t forget how you show up at my door, dirty-blonde hair in two long braids, heavy make-up on your pale face. Revlon’s Fire & Ice, you say when I complement your lips. My mother wore that color, I want to say — but don’t, afraid to kill the mood. You’re dressed in an old-fashioned, white lace gown that covers you neck to ankle. Chaste, until you step into the light and the gown turns miraculously transparent. You’re naked underneath, the outline of your body, those tennis-toned arms, the way your dark nipples poke through the lace. You are usually so shy, half hidden behind your husband, Jonathan, all six foot four of him. When I look for him in the doorway, you smile. It’s just you and me, you say, like you planned it. Jonathan’s in the kitchen with Eric. I pull you into the studio, lower the grey seamless backdrop, ready the lights, touch up your already torrid lips, wipe an errant stroke of liner off your lower lid. I want to kiss you, feast on your beauty, but instead I hide behind the camera, desperate to finger your left nipple, jutting through the lace, a bullseye. You smell like Evening In Paris. I long to take you to bed, strip the gown from your body, revel in your nakedness. But I keep thinking of your shady husband and my shady husband, how they might come in at any moment and get the wrong idea. How they’re out in the kitchen, guzzling beer, thick as thieves, always plotting their next score. How they’ll make a big haul dealing coke to the Angels, or maybe selling guns or diamonds. Move us all to Costa Rica, and go straight till the money runs out.
Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle,Verse Daily, The American Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. She’s authored six poetry collections, most recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press), The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press) and EROTIC: New & Selected (NYQ Books). Her photographs are featured worldwide. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. www.alexisrhonefancher.com