Thursday, May 06, 2010


Big Tent Poetry: Persona

"The glory of it stings," she says, and I picture her, fifty years younger, on a motorcycle, helmetless, that wonderful hair lashing her face, her arms wrapped around some Frenchman.

"God comes like that" -- her arthritic fingers won't snap, but she can make the gesture of snapping them -- "and then he goes away again. Easy for you to say he's coming back. But what if he doesn't?"

She taps my chest with her fingertips, all ten of them. "You don't say what you think, do you?" She nods. "You want to be taken for a nice man, that's right, that's the right thing to do. You go home and tell your wife I'm crazy with God, tell some jokes about me, about old maids and spaces under the bed. But to me you nod just like I'm making sense. Is it time for my medicine yet?

She drifts across the kitchen, a tiny pink wisp, and fills a glass with water. Her hair floats around her, white laced with black: a mink turning to ermine. "But you're not the medical one, are you. I was forgetting. You're the masseur. What Linda calls the 'masseuse.'" She chuckles, her voice low and raspy. "You look manlike enough to me. Of all the times, they get a man to touch me when I'm too sick to appreciate it. Isn't that just like the world, isn't it though? That's why the crazy with God stuff.

"Oh, God," she adds, "he knows that. No secrets between us. He says he doesn't mind, he's got worse things to worry about."

She climbs onto the table and shrugs out of her robe, snuggles under the blankets, and blinks at me. "So touch me already."

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