Patricia Lockwood

Ayn Rand Attaches Bottlecaps to the Bottoms of Her Shoes

It was always her dream to dance noisily, she taps slowly
at first and then with conviction, she dimples with happiness
all over her legs, this is something that happens to women
and Ayn Rand is a woman; she taps up the side of a sky-
scraper, she taps up long flights of Brutalist stairs, tap tap
and Ayn Rand is nailed down to a dance and far
across the country, a shipment of silvery house numbers
arrives at the hardware store,
the Number Ones clink against each other and Ayn Rand
hears across space and time, she drops those clinks in the bank
of her dancing to save against the day she might have to stop;
her hair leaps up from its style and falls back exactly in place,
like a house that is Gone Through and nothing taken
because the burglar realized the house belonged
to the only teacher he ever loved
and set the sack of silverware down, clink clink,
that last line goes into her bank, she grows richer by the minute,
she is tapping the airiest tap of the year, all the pulses
inside her stand up and reveal themselves to be Full-Blooded Tap;
the bottlecaps multiply sound with sound and the bottlecaps
sound nothing like money;
she is dancing on Orange Nehi, she is dancing on Coca-Cola,
she is dancing on tree-tasting Stewart’s Birch Beer, Ayn
Rand is dancing on Grape Crush, she is suddenly flooded
with feeling, she thinks “My taps are bursting the grapes
of silence,” it is the first line of poetry she has ever written—
pretty good considering she never read
a line of poetry in her whole dead life,
that is of course except for this one.

Patricia Lockwood's poems have appeared widely, including in The New Yorker, Slate, Boston Review, Tin House, and Poetry. She lives in Savannah, Ga. Balloon Pop Outlaw Black (Octopus Books, 2012) is her first book.

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