Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Writing Wednesday: To the Virgin: Manifestaion

Don't let the fact that this is written in verse and prose put you off. I think the poetry is accessible enough. And it's more a story than a random collection of poems. This is part one of what I pictured would be a four part chapbook series.  I never finished it.  This is a revised draft.  And yes, I've shared a few of these pieces on this blog before.  But I don't think I've ever shared it from beginning to end.  Enjoy!


To The Virgin:

Manifestation 

A Love Story Told in Poetry and Prose



Distance

Profile silhouetted,
I see you and nothing more.
You stir your drink three times
Counter clockwise
Then tap tap tap your straw
Before dropping it on the bar.

A herd of girls huddled around a table
Fending off any approach from guys
Who jockey like jackals for position
Hoping one will break away.

I watch you join the others
Who sip their neon pastel drinks.
You edge yourself apart,
Latent and lovely,
Drinking in gulps from a glass
Too soon empty.
You are removed.

I want to remove you,
Take you away to someplace where
I can discover, uncover more.
My mouth waters;
Even then I won’t approach you
Afraid to encroach
I remain watching
From a distance.


Missed Opportunity

     I wait outside the restroom. I check out the women that come and go, talking loudly, leaning and stumbling into one another, or slinking by, still sober enough to stride with seduction.
     I wait for you to emerge, easily ignoring the rest. You are my target. You are the one I want to know. I barely allow myself to blink, knowing how quickly such fantastic moments can slip by, forever lost in the crowd of the usual club distractions.
What is it that quickened in me, that uncoiled and rose when I first saw you? You are extraordinary and I know that when I draw closer I will become inordinately drawn into the orbit of your magnetism.
     When you come through the door, I see you fumble for a lighter, a cigarette already caressed between your lips. Your head bowed, the neon light turns your hair a soft blue as if you were veiled and bowed in prayer.
     Stepping forward, I offer to light your cigarette for you. You thank me, your surprisingly dark eyes reflecting the light of my flame, your fingertips brushing the back of my hand.
Your fingers are cool from just washing them. The flame from my lighter flaring heat across my face so close to your own. Your lips slick wet with fresh gloss. These details rise quick and with a flick I close my lighter.
     “That’s a nice lighter.”
     “Thanks.”
     “Do you smoke?”
     “No.”
     I see the spark of curiosity. Intrigued, you want to know more but you are here with your friends. We say goodbye without exchanging names or numbers.

Couple

I look up, see the couple—dark, young, and
pretty—looking up at the menu.

They debate what to choose, listing
items—a coffee, a latte, or chai.

I envy the oh-so-easy way they
stand together, lean into each other.

I envy them because they have a choice
and, choosing, have chosen one another.

He is taller than she as she looks at
him in adoration, deferential,

letting him choose for the both of them
an arm close around her holding closer.

She hooks a finger through his belt loop, linked
and chained, they turn as they each take their cups.

They add sugar and cream and then blow
soft to cool the heat of their chosen drinks

before seeking a table, a corner,
a place in which to curl together.

Because I have no choice all I can do
is admire, desire and envy,

for a day when I can be as they.


Seeking

One week and another
I return to the club to see
If maybe fate will take me
To where you are.
The vapid faces of
Paper doll predictable girls
Cannot distract me from
Recollecting the way
The shadow fell across
Your lowered eyes
As I lit your cigarette
And the memory of how cool
Your fingers felt touching me
With a tattoo deepness
That no flirtatious flutter
Of lashes can dull. 
Even a one night stand
Between the thighs of another
Leaves me wishing I had been
More bold in the dim and din
Of the club where you were
But where you aren’t tonight.


Ring

Your shadow falls across the page where I am writing in my notebook. I am baffled when I recognize. “I’m sorry,” you say stepping back.
“No please,” I say. “You’re the girl, from the club?” It’s rhetorical really but you nod. I smile and push the chair out with my foot, inviting you to sit with me. Our conversation builds slowly then builds momentum as questions come staccato quick. Where do you work? What do you do for a living? Where are you from? How long have you lived here? What is your favorite color?
The questions I don’t ask won’t wash away as I sip my coffee, taste bitter on my tongue. How did you find me? Why are you here? When will I see you again? Do you always smell like lilacs and cloves?
I let your questions predetermine mine and my eyes widen in wonder when you laugh at my jokes, pushing your hair from your face in an easy habit.
That is when I notice the ring on your left hand and a wall begins to separate me from you. Whatever hopes or expectations that rose from our coincidental meeting are stopped, the kind of reality check I am never expecting.
You catch my glance and shove your hand beneath the table as if to hide some embarrassing evidence, pleading the fifth to a question I haven’t spoken.
“Would you like another coffee?” I offer.
“I’ve had my limit.”
I want to know all your limits but settle for your name and number which you offer instead of staying for more coffee and conversation. You promise to call me sometime. I want to mark my calendar with something specific, a day and time when my phone will ring.


Keeping Busy

I woke up when you became
The still small voice to which
I constantly seek to listen
Beyond the thump thump thump
Of club music pounding in the background.
The sound of your voice humming
In my dreams and memory
Keeps me restless, desperate
To fill these empty hours
With frivolous activities so I won’t
Think endlessly about you
     I wake up
     Brush teeth
     Wash face
     Brush hair
Reflect on my reflection in the mirror
Wondering why you didn’t see in me
The promise I perceive in you
      Get dressed
      Get keys
      Get to work
Wonder what you do to fill your days
The ways you distract yourself from
Those thoughts that hold you, control you,
The way this thought of you won’t
Leave me alone; wondering how you
Became my true north, the point
To which the needle of my thoughts
Constantly return turning back to
The give and take of activities
Stop to shop on my way home
Cook a meal to feel full
Undo the morning’s doings
Climb into an empty bed
The sheets cool like your fingers
Against the flame of my body.


Leaning

I’m the one you call
Always when you’re crying
Sometimes we meet someplace
You to escape the pain of home
Me eager not to be alone

You sit close enough for me to hear
The way your breath hiccups
Around the choke of tears.
I dry them, then push
The stray fall of hair,
Watch light refract starbursts
On your lashes.

When you go to the bathroom
To splash cold water on your face
I lift your glass to sip
Place my lips over the lipstick line
So close to a kiss and before you return
I settle back into my role,
Ready to console and commiserate.

Tonight you prefer to stay home
To hold me only as close
As the phone to your ear.
Your voice on the line scatters and echoes
With the untouchable weight of
Just friends.

On my end, I wish I could find a way
To close the distance you maintain.


Seven Minutes

Deprived of sight, my other senses heighten. 

The slide of hangers pushed aside as I
Reach out to find an arm, a shoulder

All I can hear are the giggles of our friends on the other side of the door, my heart pounding, and our breath as our faces draw closer and

We kiss.

We dare you, they said, before pushing closed the door leaving the two of us alone in the dark. 

At first, lips tentative turn daring as hands
Begin to fumble and fingers or palms brush
Hair, cheek, breast, back, waist, rib, flesh but

This is my first kiss

So there is only so far I dare to go although neither of us stops or pulls away until the inevitable knock, a fifteen second warning, hammers on the door and

Jamie says, “You taste like a miracle.”

Tugging unseen clothes back into place
The door is pulled open as I
blink myself to sight and realize
I’ve already forgotten how Jamie tastes.


Numerology

I number the times you’ve touched me
Leaning in as I light a cigarette,
The way you bump me when I make you laugh,
Your ever cool fingertips brushing mine
Your foot tapping my leg beneath the table.
These accidental connections become nothing
After the first time you reach across the table to
Grasp my hand, hold, then squeeze
All for just a moment before you release me.
This first intentional outweighs the incidental
And I start over, measuring the times you
Reach out with reason.


Invitation

You email said “Sorry for the lateness.  Please say yes.”
Attached—a pdf file, a flyer for an opening.
Your name.  Your face.  Proud to announce
Your third show at this fine gallery. 

And yes, I say yes, because who am I to deny you anything?

How does one dress for another’s success?
I choose more carefully than I would if this
Were a first date, wanting to impress you more
With how I dress so you will notice me

Although this is your special night and not mine.

Before I leave I make the bed, just in case
Tonight you decide to come home with me.
I haven’t pushed the point but you’ve been
Crying to me about your ex and I want to be

So much more than the one you cry to over the phone.


Opening

I arrive fashionably late but underdressed, aware of my own smallness, reinforced by the assault of your massive canvases.  Does my jaw drop?  Do I stare wide eyed?  The colors are angry.  The lines violent.  Architectural landscapes all linear, angular, so unlike the artist whose every curve has become my responsibility to remember. 

I pause longest at a tower which hints at curves somehow, creates an illusion of feminine form without fully revealing her, as if she were veiled, demure, hidden somehow. 

“Do you like what you see?” 

I know it is you, your voice coming from so close behind me I can smell the lilacs blooming.  “Yes.”

“She’s one of my favorites.”  You step beside me and I am torn between wanting to see only you and knowing I should continue to admire only your art.  “The owner thinks I’m a cunt for not doing more like my previous series but I’d done the Kabbalah stuff enough, you know?  Time to explore new horizons.”

I wonder what you mean by Kabbalah stuff, what your other paintings looked like, what you expect me to say in response, but you are already turning to give me a polite air kiss on the cheek before shifting through the crowd.

“We need to do coffee again soon,” you say as you walk away without looking back, a promise said to the air and I can only hope is meant for me.

I work my way through a bouquet of other women, hoping to find a drink that might quench my thirst. 

Sold

I seek you through the crowd to say I’m leaving
I want to thank you for having invited me and maybe
Suggest a day, a time, when we could just hang out.

I see you looking up at your ex, whose profile
Is as precise as in the portrait you had shown me
And who stands taller than you by almost a foot.

You are smiling, your back arching, swaying
Slightly inebriated from the praise or wine or
Maybe just his presence as he takes your hand.

I turn to leave without saying goodbye,
Leave my empty wineglass on the buffet
Weave my way toward the exit, and pause

At the painting I had admired, with the hint
Of feminine silhouette somewhere suggested
In the brushstrokes, the one that was not for sale.


Tables Turn

Arriving early, I sit with my back
To the door so you will have to look
For me, letting you, the hunted, attack
Making myself the bait for your hook.

Whenever anyone walks through the door
I will not turn to look for you once more.
I take a risk and go to the bathroom
Knowing you could arrive while I am gone.
Afraid I may have missed you, I return
To the table looking, recognizing no one.

My relief upon seeing your face is
As strong as my desire for your kiss.


Family Ties

“I don’t like talking about my family,” you say after I ask you about your parents. 
“You talk about your sister all the time.”
“That’s because my sister’s not crazy.”
I want to ask you what you mean, ask you how it is you define “crazy,” what actions manifest determine to that your parents are not sane.  But your hand trembles as you pull out a cigarette and I decide to leave it alone.
“Tell me about your parents,” you insist, as if daring me to have a story worse than your own. 
I do what I have never done before while sober:  I tell you about my childhood.
I tell you about my father, who ran away from home, showing me my future.  A man who left nothing behind but his features in my face and the lighter I fiddle with as I go on.  I describe how my mother worked herself into a depression so deep that I forgot how to be happy.  She drank a lot and confessed things to me like how she couldn’t stand to look at me because my face was like my father’s or how I was just like him and would probably run away from home too.
She met a man. And then another.  And another.  A parade of testosterone that would move in on my mother, call our house their home, and then come into my bedroom at night after my mother had drunk herself to sleep. 
I cannot meet your eyes as I rehearse these memories.  Your cigarette is long finished by the time I finish telling you how I finally left home behind, pushed my way out into the world, and found myself sitting across a table, telling you about the nightmares I’ve survived but from which I can’t seem to wake up enough to fully escape.
When I stop I look up to your face and you do not show any emotion.  I see no sign of pity or horror.  Your face impassive passes before me and I feel the part of me that was beginning to close after the disclosure beginning to open, expand.
In your absent expression I recognize the impossibility of full acceptance.
“Let me tell you about my parents.”
And you begin to open yourself to me.


Listing

You take your coffee light and sweet with a trip shot,
Stir counterclockwise, then tap your spoon thrice.

This is one of the many gestures I have memorized.
Like the way you lead with your left to lift the cup to your lips.

When you leave I list the everything of you
All the details—food, drink, movies, whatever you mention.
I buy the books you say you’re reading, copy quotations
Alongside the descriptions of what you were wearing last time.

I gather them all in my notebook, pressing them like an orchid
Between the pages, try to capture what I can because I cannot hold
The point where soap, shampoo, perfume end and you begin when I
Inhale your farewell hug then exhale you onto the page as best I can.


Smoke and Mirrors

Because Mom disapproved, Dad took his habit outside, lighting up as soon as the door closed behind him.  I would ride my bike up and down our side of the street and he would watch, wave, smile, between puffs and clouds of his addiction.

In school we learned about the dangers of smoking and I knew I should ally myself with my mother, who frowned every time Dad walked out the door for just one more.  But I knew, with that primal childhood instinct that if he did quit it would be me alone outside, riding without his support. 

I was doing laundry a month after he had not come back.  Emptying his pockets, I found his lighter, flipped it open and inhaled the familiar butane flame.  Whatever guilt I felt for not stopping him from going out for a smoke was thrown out like so much rubbish with his things and this load of laundry was the last remnant remaining, to be denoted to the clothing drive in the morning.

I pocketed the lighter, kept it as my own.  It’s cold and dark outside, I thought.  You never know when you might need a light to find your way home. 

The first time she caught me smoking Mom said, “You look just like your father.”  She didn’t frown at me for smoking or look sad about the words.  She looked away before I could be certain but I think she was smiling.  I spend a lot of time outside smoking, staring into mirrors, and looking for my father. 

Past Loves


The first was dark, a damaged child who kissed
Me with her whole body.  I tried to save her
By losing myself.  She saw through me and
Pulled away.  It was so easy to want
What I believed we had but, in the end,
I knew salvation was more blind than love.

My next said she didn’t believe in love
And she never really liked to be kissed.
From the beginning I knew how we’d end
Though I loved the exploration of her.
Her body and taste were all I could want.
I was not alone in wanting her and

I asked her to commit to me and
Promised to help her believe in my love.
She said she’d never wanted what I want,
Smiled, apologized, and last of all kissed
Me.  When all I wanted was to bring her
Back in my life, I wanted it all to end.

Pain, so unlike life, really has no end.
I found girls who were easy and
Promised to help me forget about her.
They were not able to replace my love.
I learned less hurt came from those left un-kissed,
To be patient for what I truly want.

In all of this, have you heard what you want?
I can’t assure you nor predict an end
To what’s barely begun now that we’ve kissed.
All I know is I want to kiss you and
Learn together the new ways to make love
To you until you forget about her

And every single memory of her.
I only doubt that this is what you want
Or that I would inspire you to love
Me.  I cannot spend time dreading the end.
I want to focus on this and you and
How my mouth hungers now that we have kissed.

I loved that we’ve kissed.  You are who I want.
My feelings for her had to reach this end--
Holding, knowing you, and believing in love.

Kiss

Are you up?

You text me at almost midnight and I reply “yes” although I am in bed. I wait for my phone to ring.  Instead, it is the lobby buzzer and I know without asking that it is you seeking entrance. 

I grab my jeans as I hurry to the intercom, buzz you in as I slip into my clothes, tugging on a sweater over my tank top.  I cringe to think you will see me disheveled and avoid the mirror so I won’t have reason to turn you away. 

I listen for your approach on the other side and you are there, as I open the door, your clothes clinging to you wet, your hair hanging in ropes, your makeup streaking down. It is your bottom lip, trembling, not from cold, that tells me you’ve been crying.  And because I live closer to the bars where you like to hang out, you have come here instead of going home. 

I offer you a change of clothes, reaching for my largest t-shirt, a pair of sweatpants, knowing that I am too small to adequately clothe you.  I pour you wine and when you curl into the corner of the couch, I take the comforter from my bed and cover you before sitting down close but not too close. 

And I listen.  You tell me how he, your ex, called to talk.  Wanted to meet for drinks.  Suggested the bar where you both first met.  And every sentence is punctuated by tears, by sniffs, by hitches in your breath, your hand clutching the wine glass. 

“You know, I thought he wanted to apologize, to try again.  And all he wanted was to try to get me into bed.”

“I can’t say I blame him,” I say and blame the wine for making me so careless with my own thoughts.  You make an odd noise as if dismissing me; this makes me angry, thinking about how she would have thrown herself at him but dismisses me.  “I can’t imagine anyone not wanting you in their bed.”

You drain the last of your wine, lean your head back on the cushions and look at me.  Your breath is smooth and you do not blink away tears.  Instead, you look as if seeing me now were something new. 

You kiss me, leaning forward, your hand touching like a feather my cheek and I close my eyes slowly as I respond, my own hand reaching behind your head, sinking fingers into the flame of your hair.

“I’ve never kissed a girl before,” you murmur.


“You are a miracle.”

2 comments:

  1. Beaurtiful writing! You really have a gift.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Betty. I wasn't sure anyone was reading these things all the way through. The sigh you heard was my bated breath finally being released. :)

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