I used to hip-check the jukebox
when I passed it if I didn’t like the song playing;
the music would veer and skip where my curve met
the rounded corner of neon and metal. I took out Peggy Lee’s guttural whine
this way every month until they finally stopped replacing it.
I looked good in my stain-hiding brown waitress uniform,
all camber and coil, shined up with kitchen heat
and magnetic. Who wants to be reminded
magic is illusory when the dove is still flying
out of the hat with such disarming reliability?
I wanted to dance because dancing made a flame
lick at the edges of everything. Here was the secret
to living: what is dull can be polished
to a hot glow with the right friction.
What is lost can be added to the heart’s altar.
Peggy Lee wailed her faith in disappointment
but she was wrong:
even the fryer grease
which hung in the air and followed me
from work to the bar after
once made a hungry boy tell me
I smelled miraculous.
Rebecca Aronson’s books are Ghost Child of the Atalanta Bloom, winner of the 2016 Orison Books Prize, and Creature, Creature, (Main-Traveled Roads Press poetry prize). She was a recipient of a Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, the Loft’s Speakeasy Poetry Prize, and a 2018 Tennessee Williams Scholarship to Sewanee. She has poems recently in South Florida Poetry Journal, Tishman Review, and others. She is co-founder and co-host of Bad Mouth, a series of words and music.