The shoe poised on the tip
         of my toe was a lure. Even
         directors important as
         Von Stroheim want
         to be hunted. You there
         (eyeing my ankle,
         my nearly exposed foot),
         you can dance? I nodded.
         We may let the camera see all of you.
         And like that I became foreground,
         permissive scenery in his second film.
         The Devil’s Passkey boasted stars
         who spurned my display
         as if they’d only known fullness
         their whole lives. But I knew better.
         Opportunities are rare as rain
         out here, even for beauties
         knocking on closed doors
         day after day, shoes and skin
         coated with dust. Somedays
         that dust was the only thing
         in our bellies, those of us
         who didn’t come floating in
         on a raft of our father’s money
         or favors due. So I let my
         feet be bathed on film,
         my toenails painted–I danced
         barefoot on a table then dangled
         my legs off the arms of some
         actor who flourished me
         around like a prize. Later, Von Stroheim
         would go over the reels
         and reels of footage (so to speak)
         and afterwards take me with him
         to The Ingress where the beautiful
         and newly rich gazed and grazed.
         Beneath the table I’d rub my stockinged
         foot along his leg and when I stopped
         he’d press his leg against mine
         and we’d pass the evening rubbing
         and pressing while introductions were made
         to men who might be inclined to help me.
         They handed me their cards like keys. I can open
         many doors
, they’d say. So many doors . . .
         I have many doors to be opened
         I’d whisper, I may let you enter all of them.
TERI YOUMANS GRIMM is the author of Dirt Eaters, published by the University Press of Florida. Her writing has also appeared in Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, Connecticut Review, South Dakota Review, Sugar House Review and Homegrown in Florida: An Anthology of Florida Childhoods, among other publications. She currently teaches in the low-res MFA program at the University of Nebraska.