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Salome Dances the Seven Veils, Asks for the Head of a Baptist in Return

 

1.
someone once told me
A MAN WILL MOVE WITH HIS MIND
BUT A WOMAN MUST MOVE WITH HER BODY
it makes sense [to me]
us heavy-limbed mutes
us kid-gloved air
us beautiful wrapped
us whirling and ribboned and dappled [and hollow]

2.
my father wrings his hands
around my neck and strokes
the fur of my throat [his fingers]
weave themselves through the fronds
of my voice he plucks a tune:
daughter-daughter-[niece]-daughter
and the seams in me appear,
perforations of ox-blood
here-and-here-and-here
a guide to unravelment, a map of spool
a song to undo me [again and again]

3.
Actually, the name Salome comes from the word Shalom.
Which means peace, an odd name to gift a vessel for blood,
But still, no woman is a weapon [at birth].
Just as nothing is sharp until it is sharpened.
I like to think I came into this world soft and pliable,
A window flung open [for light to pour through].

4.
mother says ask for his head on a silver platter
[she does not specify which He]

5.
A holy man is a holy man is a holy man.
Beard, Breath, [Tongue].
They are all the same.
No words of a Savior are news to a Woman.
No words of a resurrection sound gospel[-enough]
when you are both the Crucifixion and the Crowd.

6.
Later, the man who will go on to popularize this moment in history is
Oscar Wilde. He will portray Salome as a femme fatale, fatality as human being, a woman conscious the cliffs in her, and the lure of a man along a razor-edge. Salome will be as the knife that beheaded the Baptist. This, of course, is customary. Women are constantly used in such a way, as props, as projections,
As reasons for why men move or live or die, too much of herself to save.

7.
(give a girl half your kingdom and watch it set
watch a fault line rip open through the city square
watch it dilate in purple-gold flame
watch it sink past the horizon
this gift, this token of your pleasure
see
how much
it means
to us.)


Nina Li Coomes is a Japanese and American writer, living in Boston. Her work can be found in tap lit mag, the alice blue review, Blue Stem Journal and elsewhere. Her chapbook, haircut poems, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in Fall of 2017.

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