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Electricity, 1876

When I came to, in that year
           of bamboo, then carbon, then
                  filament, I learned to make

           my own light. At night, my breasts were incandescent,

soft as white spotlighted jades.
          And the school girls who knew
                  how to see in the dark brought me

      back in their arms. We set up our atelier in the city’s

reddest section. We plied the marquee
           makers with our sugared tips, took
                  their likenesses with powdered flash;

           some took their last names. I just held their trembling faces.

When the men changed, grew
           more famous still, we painted our faces
                  in an electric gold the blind could see.

           And Tesla hung our brothel lights, made our copper eggs

stand on their ends – but I took Edison
           to my bed. For him, I coiled a wet-
                  licked curl and buried it in a bulb,

           I pressed my hands together. The city smoldered, then burned.

Posted 02/16/11
Previously published in Meridian 26.
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