Last night, we spoke
In my imaginings.
Smudged by lifelong editing
Words took awhile shaping
While my past filled in your mouth.
We sat at a bar shaped like a fish.
Your lyre-ish lips bent songs
From your woody throat, but
Yielded to the original lyrics.
Memory sang them differently.
I couldn't resist, and used my mouth
To bite history into yours.
Censored, you ordered a drink, with a straw.
You always liked straws, as a child.
For me, a double malt, no frills;
I'd play the respectable adult.
Oh yes, I was good at playing.
I asked you how you were. You were confused,
Spun turrets of ice in your glass.
In the kitchen a symphony of dishes
Were dropped, immunizing your answer.
Behind your eyes questions were
Frothing inside like a turbulent sea,
Dark alien shapes shifting under the surface of the storm.
The unnamable that gave you life,
Those questions I didn't dare ask.
The bar you knew; that much you knew.
The smell of beer-soaked carpets, the bartender
With a smudge across his cheek.
Here, we spent hours together,
Here, when we were young.
You recognized this place; I could see it.
But the place inside you was foreign,
As if it belonged to somebody else.
I turned from my memories to address you,
But you'd gone, and I was next to strangers.
Faces and voices slid into each other,
Melted seamlessly into the uncertain.
"Memories can be like that," you said,
And suddenly you were at the bar again.
"A bit of nothing we made into something.
You left me in the past.
I thought I'd found my end.
But I can feel what you're feeling now,
And if I feel you feeling this,
I must run deeper than the past.
Anticipating my self,
I know for the first time
I must be more than this."
"I must be more than this," I said, and you asked me how I was.
"I must be more than this," you said,
But before you'd finished speaking,
You streamed down your own leg and pooled on the floor.
I grasped at you mid-sentence and tried to catch you in my glass.
I saw my reflection in the puddle you made, for a moment, at the bar.
Too late; the threads had caught you up.
I'd hoped to take some of you with me
But: you were lost in the carpet.
From these rustled dreams I awoke to the threat
Of a Sunday sky. With resin cast it fell upon mind
That, cast in shadow, saw nothing.
For this I locked myself in
Undressed, ravished by dreams,
The dream-head guillotined.
But if I left, and went outside,
The sun would scold my suffering, make mockery
Of my madness. I shelter from its laughter,
To dream in armoured ignorance
Of the moment I met myself
And melted over drinks.
Am I the sea or a parable for despair?
Am I the only middle class woman in the welfare line?
A house-broken pearl before swine?
A heathen aphorism, a blasphemous smear of come-
uppance? Are you my anti-coagulating drug? A chest
without a tatoo? Are you my morivivi?
Am I so poor that I can't ride the subway to apply for food stamps?
I had two dollars but I put it with the quarters-I needed a smoke.
It's a long way from sun's sticky heat to some sweet-smelling broccoli.
Is it kismet to live a life without warmth, without roses or lilies?
I'm weary of my lot in life, my woe-is-me kinehora family
Mewling about a dreamless existence, all that quiet desperation.
Am I spirit or some hare-brained wife married for an apartment?
My Hebrew name means grace, but I'm touched by atheism
All those mitzvahs lost on me, decrees copulating in my ears.
Are you the coveted brass ring, a neck
without a stiletto print? Are you a ghost orchid
Rootless on an unemployed street in New York?
Am I a tumbling down, a prescription, a beachy
Pastel or am I a tumble, a roll in the hay
brittle geography of exile where I'm ready
to be dug up as a relic, the most expensive lilac
towel you could find at K-Mart, or am I a gazelle
leaping from rock to rock - interview to interview
turned down like an afterthought headed for concrete?
Am I that little girl who skipped over the red
Swastika scalping the Boston sidewalk in 1962,
or is that over? This homeless me,
am I that little girl's replacement, the one
with publications and no job, shayneh-punim
outside the antechamber, a bulls-eye for Saturn.
Does suffering preempt essence?
I'm bringing my Diaspora full-circle, single
handedly returning to myself, no better
off than my ancestors, no better off third generation.
Is my capacity for milk my last memory of home?
Did you just say I was overqualified?
Baby, are you my honey-bee or my myopic starburst of survival?