Rondeau After a Transatlantic Phone Call
Love, it was good to talk to you tonight.
You lather me like summer though. I light
up, sip smoke. Insistent through walls comes
the downstairs neighbor’s double-bass. It thrums
like toothache. I will shower away the sweat,
smoke, summer, sound. Slick, soapy, dripping wet,
I scrub the sharp edge off my appetite.
I want: crisp toast, cold wine prickling my gums,
love. It was good
imagining around your voice, you, late-
awake there. (It isn’t midnight yet
here.) This last glass washes down the crumbs.
I wish that I could lie down in your arms
and, turned toward sleep there (later), say, “Goodnight,
love. It was good.”
– Marilyn Hacker
… and you have three guesses as to the topic.
Okay, okay, I’ll give you a hint.
Well friends, I’m about two weeks away from moving to my new home and starting my new blog, Adventures in Cohabitation and Avoiding Car Accidents on the 405 Freeway. No, not really.
But now that I’m out of my tropical isolation (and just in time, apparently) (also: Flossie? For reals? Does this mean I can put in a request for Hurricane Unicorn Sunshine?)… anyway, here I am again, and I’d like to tell you a story. A story that proves conclusively that some people are born evil.
Scene: Amtrak Train #43, the Keystone, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.
petitpoussin, young woman looking forward to a nostalgia-laden eight hours trundling through the Pennsylvania countryside.
A—–*, three-year-old girl, spawn of Satan.
Crying woman, mother of Satan’s spawn, possible estranged wife of Satan.
petit: [listens to iPod] [inner monologue] Ah, Pennsylvania, those gently rolling hills, the trees with the leaves that are green, the… blah blah blah who am I kidding. Wow, the new Feist album is so cute, I hope a lot of jerks don’t start liking it because then when I go to her concert it will be full of spoiled brats singing along too loud, like that time I saw Fiona Apple for my birthday a couple of years ago. [sings, with voice which will someday bring fame and fortune, in the form of a cash prize at a karaoke contest] Take it slow, take it easy on me — WHAT THE HELL IS THAT NOISE?
A—–: BLEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH WEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH AAAAAAAAAAACKHHHHHHHH.
[Linda Blair-in-Exorcist sounds continue... for FOUR HOURS, or until Altoona, whichever comes first. Interspersed is the following:]
Crying woman: [cries]
A——: Mommy, why are you crying?
Crying woman: [cries] Because you hit me and it hurts.
A——: [evil laugh, eerily similar to Chucky from Child's Play]: HEH-HEH-HEH-HEH-HEH BLLEAAAAAAAAAAH MEEAAAAAAAAAH WEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.
[Time passes, incredibly, painfully slowly.]
Crying woman: [cries, restrains A----- on train seat] You have to be still, you’re bothering the other people on this train and acting like a brat.
A—–: [sobs in Linda Blair voice] Mommy, I don’t want to be a brat! I want to be good! I WANT TO BE GOOD MOMMY!
[Crying woman lets A----- up after being hypnotized by its raspy, foreboding voice. Suddenly a thwack is heard.]
Crying woman: OW!
[Time passes, in the way I imagine kidney stones 'pass'.]
Crying woman: [cries] A—–, this is it, this is really it, you’re going back to your father.
A—–: Mommy, who is my father?
Crying woman: [silent]
A—–: [jubilant] I don’t have a father! [in singsong] I don’t have a father, I don’t have a father! HEH-HEH-HEH-HEH-HEH.
petit: [with dawning look of horror] [still inner monologue, obvs]: Oh no, oh no. It can’t be true! Someone shave her head and look for a birthmark! Get me a priest! Or holy water! Or ….garlic? Fuck. All these years preparing for the zombie apocalypse… who knew Omen was the film to watch carefully? Wait, what’s that sound? Is someone reciting a mass backwards? I can’t die when the last thing I ate was a bag of Doritos! I can’t die in Central Pennsylvania!
Crying woman: [cries] Please stop. Oh please, please stop.
I really wish I was exaggerating folks, I really, really do. In the meantime, I am never taking that freaking train again. The World Famous Horseshoe Curve can kiss my ass. I am not risking possession for that shit.
*No I will NOT write her name, because she will grow up, find me and kill me by feeding me to her Rottweiler.
This body does not smell human,
it smells of oregano in heat.
This is not your world
where people work and live in a house.
It is a place before or after.
After and before that.
Things in parts and pieces.
The wind turning silver
in the olive trees.
A red pomegranate on the table.
Silence with a ringing in it.
This is a beginning
or long afterwards.
– Linda Gregg