Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Famous Poem by A. K. Ramanujan

Highway Stripper
A. K. Ramanujan

Once as I was travelling
on a highway 
to Mexico
behind a battered once-blue 
Mustang
with a dusty rear window,
the wind really sang 
for me 
when suddenly out of the side 
of the speeding car 
in front of me 
a woman’s hand 
with a wrist watch on it
threw away 
a series of whirling objects
on to the hurtling road:

a straw
hat,
a white shoe fit
to be a fetish,
then another,
a heavy pleated skirt
and a fluttery 
slip, faded pink, 
frayed lace- edge 
and all
(I even heard it swish),
a leg-of-mutton blouse
Just as fluttery.

And as I stepped 
on the gas
and my car lunged 
into the fifty feet 
between me 
and them, 
a rather ordinary, 
used, and off-white bra 
for smallish 
breasts whirled off 
the window 
and struck 
a farmer’s barbed wire
with yellow-green wheat grass 
beyond
and spread-eagled on it,
pinned
by the blowing wind.

Then before I knew,
bright red panties
laced with white
hit
my windshield
and I flinched,
I swerved,
but then
it was gone,
swept aside
before I straightened up-
fortunately, no one else
on the road:
excited, curious
to see the stripper 
on the highway,
maybe with an urgent
lover’s one free hand
(or were there more?)
on her breast
or thigh,
I stepped again
on the gas, frustrated by their
dusty rear window
at fifty feet
I passed them 
at seventy.

In that absolute
second,
that glimpse and after-
image in this hell
of voyeurs, I saw 
only one at the wheel:
a man,
about forty.

A spectacled profile
looking only 
at the road 
beyond the nose of his Mustang, 
with a football 
radio on.

again and again 
I looked in my rearview
mirror 
as I steadied my pace 

against the circling trees, 
but there was only 
a man:

had he stripped
not only hat 
and blouse, shoes
and panties
and bra,
had he shed maybe
even the woman
he was wearing,

or was it me
moulting, shedding
vestiges,
old investments,
rushing forever 
towards a perfect 
coupling
with naked nothing
in a world
without places.

~A.K. Ramanujan.

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