So much elegant suffering.
The mute girl in The Spiral Staircase.
The shapely maid who says to her boyfriend,
Oh darling, I’m so unhappy.
How I wanted to say that to someone.
When I got the chance, he tired of hearing it.
I measured time by how far away I could live.
A dog-eared paperback, Joanna Russ’s The Female Man.
What if the Great Depression never ended?
We’d all be wearing fedoras and zoot suits
snoods and rats, spending ration stamps.
My mom used to empty out the attic.
My dad took everything in the divorce.
All the stuff I’ve saved. Sheer drapes and cut glass.
Everything from the decree.
I asked for the quilt back. It was in rags.
We wish not to stop the passage of time,
but the ending of eras. My dad used to say,
children should be seen and not heard,
quoting Queen Victoria in a Midwestern bowling alley.
A friend bought two copies of Madonna’s Sex,
one to read, one to save.
Living in one place long enough,
scary monsters in the basement
join us in the living room,
their mojo switched off.
We’ve got to drop it. This is all we get,
living through and not after
what happens to the body.