Poem of the Week | July 03, 2012

In honor of the heat wave and holiday, we offer Sarah Grieve’s ode. Grieve is a third year PhD student studying 20th century American poetry at Arizona State University. She has degrees from Florida State University (MFA) and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (MA & BA). Her poems have recently appeared in RATTLENew MadridApalachee Review, and New Ohio Review. She has finally adjusted to living in the desert — in other words, she spends her summers elsewhere.

Author’s Note:

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the sun: I love it, and it hates me. Growing up in a Southern California beach town, this resulted in my skin glowing red for the duration of many teenage summers. In my studies, I have become interested in the ways poets address the objects and elements around them, the things with which we interact in subtle and meaningful ways on a daily basis. By addressing the sun, I discovered that the act of putting on a bikini represents many of my feelings about womanhood, beauty, and desire.

Ode in a Bikini

No, Sun, I won’t try on that after-summer swimsuit,
and it has nothing to do with the mismatched neon lycra
and sticky panty liners I’ll have to wade through
or that the suit is cheap and leftover. I could get past the color:
butterstick—worse, butter in the pan too long, butter and garlic


burnt and browned—when even Doris Day yellow makes me
look like an undead queen recently risen from the underworld,
but I’m not wearing a one-piece, not now or soon, because my boobs
are too damned wild to be masked beneath the suction
of respectable swimwear—we, my boobs and I, want to be dusted
with dry sand, nicked with your rays, and I’m not looking


for function (there’s plenty of time for that), I want to dive
under water, somersault and back flip with the chance
of a nipple escaping, want to feel men’s nipple-gazing,
because in the dervish-ness of it all, I’ll see their jazz,
see the way I feel when the lace of my bra shows through,


but then I’ll stuff myself back in, straighten sunglasses
and congress with the other bikini-clad women and their breasts
and navels, their bare backs and scantily clad asses because we’re not
the ones sitting beneath umbrellas, sipping on orange juice
instead of Sangria and Singapore Slings, not yet. Don’t you see?
Every woman hates herself from behind, or at least that’s what


Cindy Crawford said and she should know, and even if I do,
(I do), even if you, too, hate my backside and want nothing more
than to smooth out my dimples and hips like deburring the edges
of machined metal, I’ll still bare skin, uncover my middle,
untie the strings, trip up surfers and lifeguards as they survey


the horizon. O Sun, freckle and burn me, let me feel the full force
of your licks because, my darling, one day you’ll hurt me, scavenge
and scar me, leave me to cover up with long sleeves and pant legs.
It won’t be your fault I’ve lured and chased you, asked you
to sweat me each high-noon. Just let me feel the weight of your touch,
the heft of you over me until the hulk of dusk surrounds me.