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I’ve seen the thumbnail photo of the tantric massage therapist in the back of the free weekly for decades. With shoulder-length dirty blonde hair and a red paste bindi she looks alluring without suggesting youth or age. I wonder if the photo has ever been updated and, if so, whether she uses Botox. I wonder about her parameters; a young woman’s face, beautiful or not, is most often a blank slate, the record of her experience written in a secret diary, in invisible ink. To see the ravages of aging on one’s face used to be inevitable. Now it means one’s taken a stance. My resistance to tampering with my face is strong— I’m not fair game for the hunting— but would I have used Botox if I’d been in public relations? Politics? Sales? If I’d been myself “on the market”? After menopause it was tempting to use migraines as an excuse to try Botox—the same needle position for headaches and crow’s feet— but the migraines disappeared. Orgasm also dispels migraines. I cultivate conditions conducive to orgasm: I try not to take my partner for granted; I buy the creams, the oils, the mood enhancers, the toys. When, on a whim, I type tantra into the search bar and click, sleek ergonomic couches appear in seven colors of leather and the option of a brass stud trim while, in voice-over, a woman gushes that tantra is life-changing. The video features a couple demonstrating positions, the couch their perfectly contoured tool and prop. I might have been that limber once. (Like “redolent,” I found “gushes” almost too redolent of female sexuality to use.) For all their prowess, the couple on the website look clinical, un-arousing and, by their faces, unaroused. Still, I think about where to put the magic couch for our own demonstration of comically unbridled passion. I don’t want the same game face as a girl but my face does seem to have lived more fully than me— much in the same way that writing in fluorescent ink is laid bare when put under UV light.
Copyright 2023 Carol Moldaw. Game Face from Go Figure, forthcoming in 2024. Appears with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.
Go Figure will be Carol Moldaw’s 7th book of poetry. Her work has been published widely in journals including The American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Literary Imagination, The Massachusetts Review, and The New York Review of Books. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and teaches privately.
This poem – loved it!! Thanks for all you do to entertain in inform the masses:-)
Susan Read Cronin email@example.com Cell:802-379-8172 http://www.susanreadcronin.com
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Thank you, Susie. Vox Populi exists for kind, caring, aware people like you.
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“I cultivate conditions conducive to orgasm:” Wonderfully stark.
Yes, it is.