What I mean when I say I want to go dancing is that I need to feel the tremors of music earthquaking my lungs. That my lungs have filled with some kind of fluid and I am coughing it up. That pneumonia can only be cured, some nights, by high-heeled black boots and glitter. That when I put on my eyeshadow with glitter, you had better watch out. That this means I am a kind of monster polishing its fangs. That I will scour the village for flowers, eat them straight off the doilied oak tables, if it will mean digesting beauty. Mean salving this aching sweet tooth. It means you cannot trust me, these nights, to not run my claws down the bricks of an alley like keying an enormous car. It means if I do not, that I will be Etch-A-Sketch, swirling, Odysseus’ satchel of winds. That something will howl, press out of my fingertips, latch to all I touch like ink.
What I mean when I say I want to perform in this cabaret is that heat is in my limbs like rubies carried in strands by ants. That it blisters the insides of my veins like chickenpox: uncontrollable itch. That in order to quell it, I need to engage in a game of charades, of hand shadows. Fingers contort: Look. A silhouette of someone becoming an eye. One eye in a frilly bra and crimson feather boa. One eye in a garter belt with spirit gum on breasts. One fully cognizant eye. One eye staring back out. What I mean when I say Our blue-haired teacher said, “Keep the power with you” is we listened; each of us became an eye that tilted its top hat and cane. Watched and watching the watching. No “dumb bunnies.” Knives. What I mean is that each became an outline of holy, knowing flame. Palms dripping with kerosene and laughter running thick.
Catherine Kyle is the author of the poetry collection Parallel, the poetry chapbooks Flotsam and Gamer: A Role-Playing Poem, and the hybrid-genre collection Feral Domesticity. She teaches literature at the College of Western Idaho and creative writing at The Cabin, a literary nonprofit. Her website is www.catherinebaileykyle.com.