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Singles and Carpets and Shifra

Feeling groggy and heavy behind the eyes. Today I woke up and stayed in bed most of the day. Finished Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” and caught up on activist emails. I also watched the movie Singles and remembered in my body what it was to be 15 again. Remembered why Seattle crooked its pale, coffee-stained finger at me in my small Kansas town, calling me out from the wheat fields. Noticed the uncanny resemblance between Bridget Fonda’s quirks and facial expressions and those of my ex-girlfriend Shifra and wondered if she, too, studied movies in her adolescence to find cues and clues about gender. Or if I gravitated toward her because of her uncanny resemblance to Briget Fonda’s character in Singles.

I wrote this poem called “Kansas in 3 parts,” which  is really about the comingling of my Kansas reality and New York dreaming. I finally got a chance to write about New York Seltzer.

The sun intermittently peeks out from behind the clouds, and the high temp today is 63, but I get on the bus and air conditioning’s on. Riding across the lake to the suburbs to pick up my son Ollie with cold air brisking my shoulders. Instead of trudging up Education Hill to retrieve him from his father’s doorstep, I called Ollie and asked him to meet me at the transit center. He can do that now–that’s how big he is. He said he would just go down to the adjoining skatepark and kick it with his friends until I arrive. He’ll be a teenager in less than a month. How can 13 years go by so quickly? Actually closer to 14 years if you count the pregnancy, if you count from the moment the doctor or nurse practitioner or whoever said that I was, indeed, pregnant and the smile didn’t leave my lips for days. I was 19 years old. Now I’m 32. There’s something slightly shocking about those numbers. Not bad shocking–just looking at 19 next to 32. The difference. 19 is sort of wobbly,  a stork standing on one leg, while 32 is stately and round. Curvy and substantial. How the years between 19 and 32 have unrolled like a carpet. Red carpet magic carpet drifting on seawings, red carpet for me, the star in my movie, carpet like that horrible expression “carpet muncher” that my girlhood cousins would use, which always sounded insect-like, roach-motel-like. That was before I knew I was a lesbian.

Yesterday I saw a beautiful girl with dredlocks on the bus. She was in my Intro to Judaism class two springs ago and didn’t have dredlocks then. She reminded me of Shifra. I watched the leaping of dusty pink salmon in her cheeks in response to the breezy Seattle streets and the raspy questions from the homeless man across the aisle. I felt the sharp angles of Shifra’s absence like delicate fishbones wedged between my teeth after a hastily eaten meal. The savoring comes after.



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Poet and Tarot Reader, specializing in Water Cartography
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