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Ray Ball

In Which I Consider the Absurd and Ecstatic in a Commercial for Women's Razors


The word

In Which I Consider the Absurd and Ecstatic in a Commercial for Women’s Razors

A Remix with Lines from Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza

Receive from your sweet topiary
this close embrace, this close shave.
Immense love brimming through the blade
so close to the skin, bikini line clean

near the opening. Enter through,
little dove, and repose with me
on this flowered bed sheet. Pink
strong knots tied fully, wholly

satisfied. Ah! With fingers tipping, she
writes of the love of God, sublime
on my lips, smooth this gift I
proffer here, found in such

glorious company, tender and still
after a Thanksgiving
prayer for what has been inflamed –
words made flesh, freshly shriven.

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I was six years old when
Rocinante came out
of retirement. A young  
child dreaming of La Mancha
(without really knowing it
was La Mancha) and of castles,

of windmills. I thought
Rocinante was a nag and
a nag was a girl because
my father called my granny
a nag. He said, “your mom
will nag me if I let you do

that.” So I dreamed
of castles and windmills
and giants and of having 
a nag. I liked a girl. I didn't
know anyone who was gay
or bi or lesbian. I hadn’t

even heard the words. I
had heard the word fag and
knew it rhymed with nag
So I dreamed of being
a boy who could kiss a girl
in a pretty dress. A boy who

could ride a horse even
though it was a male horse
that I thought was a female
horse. Now whenever my
husband nags me, I think
of Rocinante. Rocinante:

that man woman horse
who came out of retirement
and once again bore bravery
and naivety and scorn and
dreams. Bore them in armor and,
for that matter, in gowns.

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The word

is on the tongue
and it tastes bitter like

maror. But I prefer that
anyway to the false sweetness

the flow of honey too smooth
I wonder when it will crystalize.

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Ray Ball grew up in Oklahoma and Texas and received her PhD in History from Ohio State. She is currently a history professor based in Anchorage, Alaska. When not in the classroom or the archives, she enjoys running marathons and drinking bitter beverages. She is the author of two history books and her creative work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Breadcrumbs Mag, L'Éphémère Review, and The Cabinet of Heed. She tweets @ProfessorBall

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