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Me, Mom and the Moulin Rouge

Just turned pubescent, I saw the blush
In girls' cheeks - a new color for my eyes' palette,
Red lights in the dark of my new aloneness,
Wanting nothing but summer when clothes would shrink
Around anxiously exposed flesh and limbs.

That was when my mother dragged me
Across Europe - exposed to history and art
For so many weeks Reubens' women made me drool.
Of course there were girls in every country
And on our tour, but just when I'd get one of them
To giggle, the leash of culture yanked me away
Before I could make with my happy paws.

Our day in Paris was the day the Louvre was closed.
So much for Mom the tourist, trying to capture
All the best moments of art in her journal.
Instead we went to the second home
Of Degas and Lautrec - the Moulin Rouge
Where dancers once posed long enough
To become beautiful canvass blurs. There we were
Right up front, me leaving my glasses at the hotel,
Tired of having to see what was good for me.
So I never saw the topless dancers except
As flesh tone fuzz with swaying motions,
And I never saw my mother's face decompose
Into its basic geometry, a pained facade
She held all evening, smiling (even during
The on-stage dolphin act's final trick -
The nuzzling free of the trainer's bikini top).
Not wanting to be caught squinting, I watched
Through an impressionist haze what she saw too clearly.
She could never again view the paintings of dancers
Without the background shadows becoming leering artists.
I guess you could say we both got what we were
Looking for in Europe, although when you travel
Someone always mixes up your wishes
With someone else's wants.