The Aging Bachelor Drowns in Memory
Charlie Madsen is deep into hiding, scratching out pages of English to his father, when the pageboy redhead rushes into the café, arms swinging in the backwoods slope of his vision.
Speaking to the room, she confesses that she is late because she lost her way, then goes to sit with her friends at the next table. The tractor beams of recognition stop her halfway there, pulling her gaze on a string to the right.
Charlie, in fact, would prefer that she were not there, has no ready vocabulary for the slick steel chains of attraction buckling his skin, but as she rushes over is overcome by the ice blue cut of her eyes, the severe line of hair shadowing her forehead, Renaissance cheekbones, and blazing youth.
drive me to my friend’s house
I will show you wide rivers of asphalt
tick-tock fields of suburban streetlights
and one tiny honeycomb cell near
the orchard where I spent
warm, liquid French toast hours
on a couch, with a girl
introducing her to the farther reaches of her body
thin shoulders, blonde hair the scent of
nutmeg, the skin at the back of her neck
(I whispered the word “condom.” She ran.)
And if it weren’t this street
it would be the avenue to the south
the boulevard to the east
and several bipartisan culs-de-sac
my former girlfriends peppered over the landscape like
Charlie succeeds in blocking out the UV rays from the redhead’s table and finishes his letter, is about to head to the counter for a refill when one of three dozen our-songs sweeps down from the speakers.
The fair-skinned Christian girl with
rotello curls of chocolate hair
a Christmas day two years before when they
danced to drunken country breakup songs
on a moss-green futon
her smooth Egyptian smile snaking its way up his neck
He is surrounded, buried
covered and done
had best just order a poppyseed bagel
stare out the window at taillights and oak trees and
settle in for the long night of forgetting.
First published in ComradesFrom the collection Great Showtunes of the American Stage
Photo by MJV