|
A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
Click on a line to comment

The Daring Young Man (and Woman) on the Flying Trapeze

“Cory,” I said,

having returned by a circuitous route, involving

several pauses by trees not too distant

from Cory, but not too close, just so he

could see me, know I was there, before

I strode back, threw down the blanket,

and myself, and said, “Cory.”

“Hmm?” He looked at me

     over his grassblade.

“Cory. We’ve known each other

     a few months.

     Such a short time.”

“Mm hmm.”

“Doesn’t that worry you?”

“Ump-mph.”

“No?”

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not the worrying kind, I guess.”

“That’s a comfort.”

“Mmm?”

“Well, a tidal wave could be bearing down on us,

     and I ask, ‘Are you worried?’ and you say,

‘Nope,’ (and by the way, I love it when you say

     that word, no one in California outside a

     movie set says that word;) because you’re not the worrying kind,

               and then it hits.”

“Hey. This is what I want to do—marry you.”

“Even if it makes no sense?”

“Sense? When did things make sense? This makes more sense

     than most of what I’ve done these past three years.

What you did—patching people up—now that

     makes sense. But me? All I did

     was blow things up, ’cause that’s a sapper’s job.

You know what happens when I see a bridge?

Even the Golden Gate? I think on how

to blow it up. Where to lay the charges,

how to sequence them; how many, and

how big, first to weaken it, and then

to bring it down; where to run the fuses,

how long, how far away to hide. Jesus.

I just wish they’d pay me, all this work

I’ve done. Any time they need that Gate

opened up, well I’m their man. So, sense?

I guess I don’t expect too much along those lines.”

I looked at him. “So—is this it? Being together won’t

     make us less alone, although it will,

with luck, make us less lonely. Is that it?”

“Yes. Yes, that’s exactly it.”

“A leap in the dark, holding hands?”

“Yeah. That’s the question in the end, isn’t it?

Will you try your luck with mine?”

I guessed I would, at that.

“Just bring me roses once,” I said. “Can you

     do that?”

               “I can,” he said. “I can and will.”

 

When I was Twelve

It was like this:

     Saturday afternoon. I’d helped all morning with the laundry.

After lunch, Andy turned the handle

     while I pushed the clothes through with a stick,

     the two big rollers squeezing out the water so

     we could hang the clothes to dry.

“You don’t need a stick,” he said,

     “except with the electric ones.”

But my fingertips had been nipped

too many times with him

     at the crank.

He kept

speeding up or slowing down,

     slowing down, humming, his hand on the mangle barely moving,

till I said, “Andy. Andy! Come on!” and he did,

speeding up just as I shoved, so

the stick got caught,

and he kept turning, busily turning away,

(would he have stopped if those had been

my fingers stuck?)

while I yelled, “Wait, wait!”

and even when he said, “What?” face turned

blandly towards mine, he didn’t stop.

“Back up!”

“You said to hurry!”

“The stick’s caught. Back up!”

We did, until I pulled out the stick. The white shirt,

     where the peeled stick had been crushed against it, showed

     a pale yellow stain.

“Now look what you’ve done!” I wailed.

“What’re you looking at me for? You said

     to hurry up, and I did.”

When we were done—when I’d rewashed the shirt, and

     pushed it through the rollers myself, and hung the clothes,—

     I, an apple, and a book went up the tree, and when Mother

     banged out of the house looking for me,

               I stayed still.

“Belinda!” she called. “Belinda!” using my whole, hated name,

     so I knew she was really mad.

She dodged about the back porch,

looking first this way, then that,

one hand up to shade her eyes.

Twenty feet away and ten feet up,

               I never moved.

Behind her, the back door flashed, catching the sun.

     Andy came out.

Then, I knew, this refuge was gone.

How did he find me, zero in on that tree,

     that branch—

     he stood there, glancing around like a dog that sniffs the air,

     collecting scents, checking out the day.

His face changed when he saw me, and

     he lifted his hand to wave.

I didn’t dare move; I just glared. If he did that again,

     and Mother saw—

     and suddenly I knew, that’s what he’d do.

     He’d wait ’til she was looking,

               then he’d wave.

Spinning suddenly, she saw him behind her,

     just as he dropped his arm. He stood there,

     hands clasped behind him, as she

     wrinkled her brow at him.

“Do you know where Belinda is?” she snapped,

     that way she has, demanding information.

He shrugged. “In her room?”

She made a noise of exasperation—as if

     she wouldn’t have looked there

     already!—and marched into the house.

Andy stood there, squinting at the sky.

As he turned slowly away, his gaze

slid across mine, and he nodded once,

               then went inside.

I was stunned—so swept by

     love and shame I couldn’t move.

How dare he do that—just when

I’d gotten his number,

to switch the digits on me. Just when I’d

resigned myself,

girded myself to face the

Dreadful Truth—my brother was

out to get me,

not to be trusted—he pulled

               a fast one, an act of real kindness.

And I, taken off guard, defenseless,

     swung open the door of love

     and invited him in.

page 48