Paul Legault
Portrait of Walt Whitman as Gertrude Stein as a Stripper

                        —after Hopkins

                                You bright slut.
                        The hard harden; the soft
                exchange their billowing roses
                        and play out the dead
        and rhymed and country melodies, lovely—
        but to men, but to women; but for gloss
                and switch of sex, they were the same
name to call to, ignoble godheads, all of us. Some debut.

                                We have given you—
                        we are each of us
                goodnesses, little lives of heavy
                        cost, wing, and gravity
        —your audience. O, centripetal force, O, fugue
        of poor lighting, of disco ball stewards. Swing
                hard down with a horror of height
and the midriff astrain with leaning of—low for them—this your body.

                                Daffodil, do not
                        look past your looks
                which are yours as they are yours to wed to
                        whom you will—
        the son or the mother, the proud nationalist, the kid
        you had without border. This is your mouth. This
                is not your city. This nakedness
is yours but not this day—though it exists for no one else.

                                Who never aspired
                        to be a word that meant
                secretly Maverick, loose knot, drawn
                        string, and god all at once?
        There's no such name, but you come close,
        dark swaggerer. I have seen you over-and
                -overing. Render each beatitude
useless. Make us enough for us, beautiful soldier. The hungry

                                will be filled,
                        the ready given arms.
                All the living must know you by now.
                        You have let them.