A Good Night Near Oude Kerk

By Anca Segall

Neon lights flicker, guide her steps,
the glow that warms and lies.
She strips off layers of mascara, rouge and shadow.
The dress, matted velvet and torn sequins,
has done its duty covering bruises,
needle marks, and plenty other sins.

Nights bleed into mornings
and splinter with sunshine.
Heel and arch moan their torture
through laddered stockings.
Ears still ring with laughter
and those first gentle touches of would-be gentlemen.

A good night’s when no one notices the prosthesis,
the joke fate traded for pounds of her flesh.
She takes it off slowly, rolling the stocking
down the too-smooth flesh-pink plastic, under her fingers.

On a good day no one coos pity
mixed with five-cent pieties,
after a two-Motrin evening,
smoke chased with whiskey sours,
scars blending under distended flesh.

So long ago a man’s arm snaked round
her shoulder, his fingers oh-so-casually brushing
audacious curves through openings that teased
imagination. Light found no room to slither
between their shoulders, hips, thighs,
as they sat watching the barges rise and fall softly
with the Prinsengracht lapping its banks.

Now, on a good night, men mistake
her averted eyes for shyness,
and she leaves them in the dark.

Anca Segall is a long-time science nerd, traveler, and modern art enthusiast. She is a microbiology faculty member at SDSU. She has recently discovered that, in their precise observation of nature and people, microbiology and poetry have much in common. Her poems have been published in The Coachella Review and The Icarus Anthology, and one of her poems won LCk Publishing’s 2017 Summer Poetry Contest. Her narrative non-fiction has appeared in Open Thought Vortex and is forthcoming in The Bookends Review.