Tuesday, September 4, 2012

you just have to fold

She prefers Rachmaninov to Wagner and I think, “Good Girl!”
The girl who is a little mad for the Beatles and looks lovely and shy,
hair parted with barrettes, falling in love . . . perhaps . . .
But she states her preferences, she does have that.
I’ve gotten sucked into something that’s not me, not my life.
I’m ungrounded and wandering full of longing, unspeakable,
because obsessions are ungodly that way
and make people hate you after awhile; even your best friends can’t stand to listen to you.
I pin Marlboro ads of glossy horses
all around my high, four-poster bed fitted with the white chenille
and tear through Barbara Cartland Romances
It’s not right.  It’s not right.
But I don’t know what else to do.
There is the lonely high desert beauty of the wild horses
and the sweet young innocents and their bodices,
to be sacrificed to love, the beauty of it,
the stiff mount of the paramour,
if it could just be so on this hill,
this golden mesa.

A plate of haddock and chips 
and a pint and a half of Guinness later,
we finally got around to men.
What did we want.
I feel high and flirty suddenly.
I dismiss the men at the end of the bar as too old, but then, the one with glasses . . .
And salt and pepper hair, perhaps . . . a somber aspect, vinegary.
Just like us, two friends out for a drink on a holiday night.
On a holiday, you just have to fold your hand, my friend said.
It takes so long to tighten it up, to straighten things, you just have to fold.
Too old.  I think again.  Then not knowing what age means.
How old am I?
I just want someone who likes me, my friend says.
Huh, I snort.  But she’s right.
If only someone would be pleasant, nice.
“I’m the nice guy who every girl says she wants, but really doesn’t.”
Gah, who wants to deal with that massive annoyance.
I shut the dating site down with the snap of the laptop.  No one.  No one there for me.

She tells me that I don’t want a mirror of myself
after I tell her that I do.
The glasses behind the bar shine and I smile.
My mother picked the difficult one.  She wanted a challenge!
I pick younger.  My friend wants older.
Alright, then, we aren’t conjoined twins,
although sympathic and invested in this friendship.
I feel bad for having scoffed at her interest in knitting.
Just because I’m that sort.  To judge it as what Old Women Do:
Baby their pets and knit and cry at movies or in public on buses.
And I’m NOT OLD!
Why shouldn’t she churn out loads of knotted patterns?
What am I doing with myself?  Drawing.  
I start to sketch the bottle of grenadine and an imagined crème
with stars and stylized sunflowers like a schoolgirl.
How could I be in love with someone who didn’t like
Crème Anglaise?
It’s her turn to snort.
I had practiced that one.  I knew she would get it.
Crème Anglaise.
I draw my spoon in paisleys through it,
press the embossed sterling beads to my lips,
inhaling the mix of vanilla and metal,
like buttons,
And the tweed, the cedary tweed.

I think of the boy who smelled of a Linden Tree.
And so thin, a lovely trunk and limbs.
I wrapped around him like a vine,
green and urgent.
And the way his hair curled to a small fascinating delta
on the nape of his neck.
I sigh.

The Mississippi of him
The long dark warmth
The river at night
So dangerous and vibrant with a play of moonlight

That was my year of twenty-one year olds
He was the brightest, really.
Though he inevitably slipped me a stone.
He smiled at me with his hand holding Rilke
And said I had to come home with him.
And I did. 

A smile.  If only.
He’s a lawyer now.  I found him online.
I can only shake my head.  He wanted to help people, he said.
I wish I could see him again.  But he has probably gone all soft and the flame gone out.
Men don’t seem to age well.
Have I?
I can’t tell.  Sometimes it seems that I barely know anything about myself.
I have to have dreams to talk sense into me.  I can’t seem to trust my desires in daylight.
That’s it.  Trust.
It has been broken.  Over and over. 

Like a good girl myself, I listen to Beethoven
In the morning.  A distant thunder.
Sucking in papery woodbine
And downing coffee.
Stamping through the garden
in a black ink peignoir and coral Happi coat,
flushing out Japanese Beetles from wrinkled pink bonicas and the
golden raspberries, drowning them in soap.
The dew washing my feet.
The waffle iron is smoking, too.
Brahms is what I want, I think.
Something soothing.
What do I want?

When my professor asked me in Pyatigorsk,
I lied.  I wanted him.  I wanted him to hold me.
To love me.  I wanted him not to have feet of clay.
I wanted him to be my perfect mentor, my father, my teacher.
But I asked for my friends.  I was very drunk on Georgian Champagne and very homesick. 
I wanted love, but I couldn’t trust those words.
He sat and let me cry.  That was a great gift.  I didn’t know it then, but it was a gift.
Not to try and fix me, but to let me be.  To let the backwater of my heart unstop and flow
in quiet tears.  As he stood guard, smoking like a dragon, folded at the end of my bed, still as Buddha.

Weep, then, little one, weep.


  1. I've become the girl at the end of your conversation, a character in your dialogues, so thick this is with desire, longing,loneliness.

    MssJane is what poems do.

  2. just love this...the way your thoughts wander and how you take us with you through such difficult themes like love and life and dreams and why we are who we are, what we're thankful for and yeah rachmaninov...he's never for the easy going...too difficult for me..

    1. Thank you, Claudia. I appreciate your reading. I had some difficulty formatting this one. It's a bit long and rambling, reflecting what I've been reading. I wanted to see if I could write down my thoughts as they came and still make something readable.

  3. I love your poem and the beautiful flow of it (truly like a meandering river...) While reading, I thought of a few lines from a life-changing Richard Hugo poem I read many moons ago: "The Towns We Know and Leave Behind, The Rivers We Carry with Us""

    "I forget the names of towns without rivers.
    A town needs a river to forgive the town.
    Whatever river, whatever town –
    it is much the same.
    The cruel things I did I took to the river.
    I begged the current: make me better."

    Your poem made me feel better for the reading. That is no small thing. I'm happy to meet you. My name is Marion. xo

    1. Thank you so much, Marion. Yes. Yes. The Hugo poem fits. How wonderful!

  4. damn, but there is no right, no definitive, instead: only ever dialogue, constantly evolving, without end.

    however, your end here is a sort of beginning, and the only resolution to be being - being the self. how peculiar, isn't it, jane, how we are on a journey back to ourselves? however did we lose ourselves, or is this the rite of being human?

    so good to read you again)))


    1. Thank you so much, erin. I cannot say. When I wrote this it felt right, a revelatory journey I did not expect. I churn through all this stuff to get to the beginning. Yes. How odd it is. And I still don't know. And so I will write again.