Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WHAT DOES A WOMAN WANT?, by KAREN SWENSON



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WHAT DOES A WOMAN WANT?, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: We read the same books as children - kipling
Last Line: Line, gathering my way before the salty wind.
Subject(s): Kipling, Rudyard (1865-1936); Travel; Women; Journeys; Trips


We read the same books as children - Kipling,
Haggard, Stevenson - and dreamt adventure,
but they went off, the boys, to much on sago
grubs with cannibals, be rocked to sleep

in a hold where rats and roaches rustled
under the slap of a moon-starched sail,
and on the volcano's steaming lip, pose
for the camera, their calves fringed with leeches.

Coming to adventure late, I'm not sure
I'd savor grubs. I didn't join my Burmese
bus companions when they dined with their
right hands. On a tramp off Sumatra's coast,

I held a scream, a bobbing bathtub toy
in my throat, as two-inch roaches filed
above my head. My bones ached to the marrow
scrambling up to fourteen thousand feet.

I envy the acceptance that accrues to cocks.
They are the universal, catholic sex.
Witch doctors don't ask wives why they've allowed
their husbands out to roam the world alone.

Green with begrudging as a young rice field,
I'm a prurient curiosity,
in my unorthodox sex, to the local men
in foreign towns who hope, or else assume.

They're shoals to navigate with care as I
tack Malacca's strait, round Java's head,
sails spread and bellying to cross the shadow
line, gathering my way before the salty wind.





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