past a portly museum guard,
up wide steps, noticing a small, polished penis
(uncircumcised) on a glistening white marble statue,
I am transported, a wood table with attached benches,
seated opposite Bobbie, shriveled, gray,
knit cap pulled over wisps, stubble
mustache, faded flannel and soiled pea coat.
If she talked, she said, "I was a kid. Alone
in the wagon. Waiting for my uncle. The horse shied.
The cart tipped. All the fruit spilled."
Sometimes she shifted a word here, Watertown
or market, added an angry father there, but the gist was
being alone, a child, the fruit spilling.
"It was not my fault."
Bend forward, shuffling a worn deck, laying the seven-card
solitaire pyramid, she muttered softly.
But if the Queen of Hearts appeared in that first dealing,
the set-up of the game, she began a loud,
uncontrollable incantation against the one, the evil one,
who laid a curse on her.
Every evening Bobbie accepted a bar of soap, folded towel
and the striped pajamas
shelter staff kept especially for her. Undressing behind
curtains, no one saw her wizened form, sagging
breasts, dark nipples, shriveled penis, dried sack.
Nothing about the gleaming Bacchus, carved in 1863
by William Witmore Storey, American,
should have reminded me of the old Armenian,
In a month or two, this should be published in a chapbook, "Magritte's Rider," by www.puddinghouse.com.
For more than twelve years, while I was teaching, my relaxation was working the occasional 3-11 shift in the woman's unit of a local shelter. It was a remarkable experience for which I was very grateful. Now my relaxation is going to the backside of the racetrack which gives me remarkable stories for which I am very grateful.
I apologize profusely for not having kept up my end of the blog-bargain, but hopefully I'm back to doing that, looking forward to reading all the poems and my usual cast of blog-character's entries.