Strip Poker at the Arctic Circle

Strip Poker at the Arctic Circle
 – with thanks to Ani DiFranco

By Gemma Cooper-Novack

The polar bears and I are exhausted.
You’re jumping from iceberg to iceberg, restless. I lay
my velvet stomach on your parka,
its furry lining catching snow like mice. It’s getting late;
it’s been twenty-one days since the sun set.

One of the polar bears has folded. He isn’t wearing
anything anyway,
just has some fish scales sticking to his paws.
I’m certain the other one’s bluffing.

Back home, I could never fall asleep with a light on.
The ice floes give just a bit under your weight,
and the water rises. The balls of your feet
are turning blue; I can see them from here.

I’m not sure how long we’ve been playing. I know
there was a third polar bear,
but she liked my shoe much better than her royal flush,
and wandered off with it hanging from her nose.
When the tide comes in, it barely makes a difference;
it makes me dizzy to watch you.

You ate my last glove,
so I’m going to put yours on. That polar bear
has to be bluffing—look at his face.
I’ll call, then. The walruses steer clear of us. My bones ache.
I wish there were penguins; perhaps we could cook them.

You’re knocking small chunks of ice into the ocean.
I would love to have fur; my bare forearms are chafing.
I have a full house, but you can’t tell from my expression. The polar bears
are sick and tired of watching you jump.

– refers from the line “Sharks sit under beach umbrellas” in Rosalyn H. Marhatta’s poem Shark Snark

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