Poetry December 2007

The Voluptuous Dancing Girls of Egypt

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—exhibited at the Paris Exposition, 1889

The Voluptuous Dancing Girls of Egypt
are seen in the streets of Cairo, dining
at the Romanian restaurant, or visiting
Paraguay, across from the Medicine Pavilion

with its harlequined maps of anatomy,
bread made with seawater for dyspeptics,
and twin exhibits: “A Curious Case of Sweating”
and “Chest Development Due to Gymnastics.”

At Machinery Hall, sympathetic ink
applies itself to a canvas of a winter scene.
Cobalt chloride sifted over the bushes,
when heated, turns the landscape green.

The Voluptuous Dancing Girls of Egypt
synchronize their watches
at the Palace of Industry, then take in
“The History of Human Habitation”—

cave dwellers capable of cultivating
pineapples. To return to the Hive
of Memory, they must wait their turn
at the perfumery, to dab vitriol on their wrists.

Robin Ekiss is a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford whose work has appeared in Poetry, TriQuarterly, The New England Review, and elsewhere. She lives in San Francisco.
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