This poem pays stylistic and thematic homage to 18th century writer Charlotte Smith's poem, "Thirty-Eight," which takes as its subject the revelations that come with age. However, the subject of this poem is decidely modern.
Having visited Las Vegas in her "naive" twenties, the author of "Stripp'd" (at age 38) revisits Las Vegas under quite different circumstances: as a professor of humanities attending a working teacher's conference. The poem is a poignant depiction of the vexed relationship between the public nature of teaching and private industry, gesturing as it does toward the ways in which the publishing industry subsidizes education. The speaker of the poem reconsiders the luxuries available to her, via the generosity of publishers, in contrast to the populations of less economically privileged who surround the conference and, in turn, whose labor supports her own leisure.