A dozen scientific eyes — each tries
to say their fingers aren’t the ones that flip
the switch, compel my naked corpse to writhe
and spread, undead, lab table bed, last glimpse
of what they knew a year ago or more —
electric, death-defying little whore.
— from “Experiment”
If the body is truly a wonderland, Kristin Garth’s Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press) is the looking glass. It’s the inward look at how the outside world has deemed strippers whores, women as commodities. It’s the pill that makes you small, insignificant, and all too aware that those in your presence are only there for you to serve – no matter the wreckage or damage caused.
The difference is that here, the speaker understands that her observers, customers, consumers, are there for a simple purpose: moving their hands up and down to what they see as an inspired dance, just for them.
Garth paints a picture of a girl attempting to become herself in a world that really doesn’t care one way or the other what she does as long as she performs, as long as they don’t see her as more than a whore. She is the fantasy in socks, a plaid skirt, and pigtails. To them, she is not real. She is who they will fantasize about when home with their wives. She is the babysitter driven home by every father. She is the toy of their desire. She is within reach, but untouchable from above them.
At the end of the day, this collection is about control – both the loss and gain. This is about finding oneself amongst the mess, the crowds, the fingers, and the stage.