Wondrous Strange
{An Umbrella Special Feature}

Janice D. Soderling

appears regularly in print and online journals, with recent and forthcoming work at Centrifugal EyeBlue Unicorn, Anon, Mannequin Envy, and Hobble Creek Review.

She lives in Sweden and knows that the glaciers are melting.

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Taking It All Off

Now I’m gonna do something
no girl’s ever done for you before.
No other performer in the world
can (would) do this act.
By special request.
(I came outa retirement for this).
Come up close, buhbee, and watch.
I’m gonna remove my skin.
I’m gonna take it all off.

One neat incision at the shoulders
and I loosen the skin of my left arm,
finger by finger,
like a long velvet glove.
Peel it off sexy,
so sexy, so sexy.

Then I rub that long glove,
like a shoeshine cloth,
between my legs,
over my cute little crotch, yeah, yeah.
And throw it to my audience of one.
Ready, buhbee? Here it comes.
And now the right arm.
Snip, rub, throw, catch!

You like this? You like this, buhbee?
The best is yet to come.
These emotional bumps and grinds
prolong the agony.
Listen to those cymbals going crash.
Crash. Crash.

Just think of the skin of my legs
as being fancy net stockings.
You dig? For chrissake, use your imagination.
I can’t do this alone, you know.
And after all it was your idea to start with.
I never wanted to be a stripper.
I wanted to be a poet.

Okay! Now picture the skin of my legs
as fancy net stockings.
Watch these stockings of real skin roll down,
slow, real slow,
slow as a sad saxophone,
down the thighs and over the knee
exposing a dainty calf (mine)
and over the ankle like a sausage ring.
Slow. Real slow.

This is a live show, buhbee.
This is a blue show.
This is for real. Dead earnest.

Now, unpeeling from the waist up,
like a bandage, like a winding sheet,
like a swaddling cloth.
You never seen boobs like this before,
Not even a tassel on the nipples.
I’m taking it all off.
Not even a nipple.

Now a firm clamp on my hair
and my face lifts off like a paper bag.
You wanna touch my eyeball?
Ga-wahn, touch it.
It won’t bite a big boy like you.
Feels kinda funny without my makeup,
but I got the smile of the year.
Ear to ear.

Let’s have a roll of the drums here.
You notice I’ve saved the best until last.
That sweet piece for the big finale.
The last skin falls like satin
dropped by the bedside.
Kicked free.
Just like me.
Kicked free.
Listen to those drums go wild.