Chrissy Martin | Poetry
Sexy in a sapphire one-shoulder gown, Abigail’s implants
buzz from boom mics. For the first deaf contestant, Bachelor Matt spits
his S’s, mouths his words wide, awards her the first impression
rose for being vulnerable, for being a fighter. Six episodes slip by
with Matt’s hands in other women’s back pockets, with spot-lit
kisses in bright carnivals, with synchronized sways to country music.
While searches for cochlear implants spike, while Abigail marks
time in the Bachelor mansion, while the other women are on
round two of carnival sways, while Matt hasn’t said Abigail’s
name in two months. The producers tweet representation. Matt tells
her, I was so comfortable in our relationship that I explored other
relationships. / Do you want me to walk you out? Post-show,
Abigail posts satin top selfies, diving necklines, dresses with clavicle
cutouts next to beautiful men dumped by Bachelorettes. In a now-deleted
Instagram caption, types, people act like I’m fragile or pure just because
of my hearing loss. Tacks on, but maybe that’s just me. Under a photo
of Abigail back arched in a string, flesh-tone bikini, the top comment:
She seems very innocent and sweet : ) In a not-deleted Instagram video
she gives us a tour of her cochlear implant, how she controls sensitivity
from her phone, how she streams music directly to it, no earbuds.
She wears a black top, long sleeves, neckline deep. Talks with her hands
but keeps them from the middle of the screen. No one mentions her body.
This sunny Californian isn’t about to let disability diminish her lust
for life. It runs like a ticker across the Playboy page. Beneath, Ellen Stohl
is strung in pearls, in dreamy ’87 lens blur. Balance Playboy on its spine
it falls open to Ellen; crease her page and she becomes a centerfold.
She is spread across a bed with oh so many pillows, lingerie crimson,
hair ’80s blonde, a soft nipple sliding from the side or a tuft of pubic hair
peeking from lace. Her legs covered like a leaf or silk sheet over Renaissance
painting nudity. In defense of Ellen’s body in Playboy, as sexy, as disabled,
Hugh Hefner says his sexually-repressed home was hurtful, even crippling.
After her car crash, Ellen told Playboy, I was a child again, and people treated
me as such, not as a woman. I was really lucky in that two orderlies in the hospital
harassed me relentlessly—tried to pull my sheets off. Treated me like a woman.
In Playboy, Ellen’s chair is absent when her clothes are, absent when she touches
herself, her mouth, looks directly into the camera, at us. She was a virgin before
the accident, studied every book about sex, learned every trick a tongue can do:
I wanted to make sure I could compete with the able bodied women out there.
Ellen’s Rate My Professor Score: 4.9. Twitter photo: Playboy spread.
Twitter bio: Amazon Barbie Cripple! Twitter account: Now deleted.
Every bio begins, I am a woman, revises, a self-actualized woman.
In deep internet archives, in two eBay listings, a photo of Ellen dripping in sex
draped in a wheelchair. Custom built to sit or lay, she curves one hand around
the contours of her long legs, the other around the arc of the wheel. In a
black gown, in pearls, she looks much more mature than her Playboy spread.
I’ve realized the chair is great to have sex in. Great rocking motion.
The eBay listing says XXX, back of the photo says HANDY CAP MODEL,
Sharry Konopski Ellen Stohl. Her signature overlaps the photo.
I have never seen her look more beautiful. She is in a beam of sunlight,
head tipped back, eyes open. Her decolletage glows. Yes, I buy the picture.
Chrissy Martin is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Poetry at Centenary College of Louisiana. She holds a PhD in poetry from Oklahoma State and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. She is the Poetry Editor and a founding editor for Arcturus. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Cherry Tree, Crab Creek Review, and Carve Magazine. Find her at chrissymartinpoetry.com.