BY AMBER EDMONDSON
VANNA WHITE STUDIES RUSSIAN CULTURE
You guess and you guess wrong but Vanna White unzips her gown anyway and from the breach Annie Oakley steps out/she too slipping off her embroidered blouse and from inside her Maud Wagner and her kaleidoscope skin splits down the front and from inside her the fire-eating bearded lady leaving her infant on convent steps and from her Leda/daughter of Thestius/debauched in swan feathers and inside her you think at least one more waits to emerge or maybe two. But more keep stepping out, nested and hollow but whole. They fill the stage, spill into the wings, trip over recording equipment, squeezed in shoulder to clammy shoulder with contestants and producers and camera operators. They fist their hands in skirts but it looks like bowing and the studio audience applauds.
BOB BARKER COVERS HIS TRACKS
In the indigo tent, a woman reads the bones, breaks them from the skeleton of an albatross strung aloft from the canvas roof, uncages a rabbit to bleed it dry over a teapot, steals your eyeglasses, stirs the mess with the earpiece. She looks like Vanna White wrapped in a fortuneteller cartoon from your childhood, except she is blind, her irises milkfed; she tells your fortune by touch/by scent/the way one hunts a mythic beast, transformed by the tension in the bowstring, the release.
BOB BARKER THREATENS TO SWALLOW YOU WHOLE, SHOULD YOU BECOME TOO POWERFUL, TOO STRONG
The tallest woman in the world is only visible from the shoulders up because of the fog. She tells you of the contortionist plummeting thirty feet headfirst, bleeding out. And the fire in a city left behind, the menagerie gone to ash. We leave the cages unlocked now, she says, we don’t waterproof the tents with paraffin and gasoline, smarter, we learn, tells you she’s seen pregnant showgirls scraped out and clean, seen Bob Barker behind the shooting gallery, groping Vanna White/bearded lady/fortune teller, but Lady Leda is too proud. Says, At least they weren’t mauled by the trained lion who attacked for no reason/no reason at all.
Amber Edmondson is a poet and book artist who lives on a decommissioned Air Force base in upper Michigan. It's probably super haunted. Her work has appeared in Autostraddle, Freeze Ray Poetry, and Menacing Hedge among other publications. She is the author of two chapbooks: DARLING GIRL and LOST BIRDS OF THE IRON RANGE.