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This poem is taken from PN Review 47, Volume 12 Number 3, January - February 1986.

Two Poems Val Warner

COTTON-WOOL LEGS

With so little self-love, she seemed to like
her legs, if you could tell by the motley sequence
of tights she'd somehow picked up: Lise lacey,
herring-boned, harlequin, black fish-netted, tartan
successively on display beneath a skimpy black skirt

she'd scarcely be divorced from . . . showing off
old chorus-girl legs, till with flu the goddess stopped

pulling the strings that jerked her
on through the trouvés of her life's déjà vu. In my arms

she folded like a rag-doll who'd seen better days, bound
for somebody's glory-hole, the toy cupboard, the dark.
     Afterward,
why was she so . . . long-term listless? Did she eat

her school lunches? - the 64-thousand dollar question.
     Poor
kid, much-fostered, when nobody ever stood up by the wall
...


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