Dr. Olmstead stood
furiously scribbling diagrams,
the pale chalk crumbling in his fervor.
There appeared on that dusty green chalkboard
the mind, the eye, the narrator, the character, lines linking each one.
Tucking in his striped shirt, a ritual
before the climax, he stressed ≠
Follow this scene in Portrait of a Lady. The candle burns,
barriers between you and Isabel evaporate in smoke.
You enter her mind, know her
thoughts, know her more than anyone.
I know her more than my wife. My wifeís mind remains
a mystery after thirty years.
I want to laugh. He credits Henry James with too much. I think of the matrilineal bond ≠ my mother collapsing onto the couch crying out for her mama when she passed ≠ the nights I spent soaked with sweat and tears cradled in my momís arms. I think of the bonds of friendship ≠ ten years of trips to hospitals and clinics, to jails and sleazy bars, from backyards to other states. I think of the rhythmic bond of making love ≠ sweat dripping, mixing, making new chemistry compounds ≠ the fervor, the hunger in a loverís eyes.
Today I sat within arms reach of my husband.
If I released the steering wheel
for just a second I could have reached
over, touched his rough beard, stroked
his neck, cheeks.
He threw Third Eye Blind into the c.d. player, said,
At some points in my life this was my favorite c.d.
His mind lost in the beats of that mourning guitar, the pleading voice singing, "Can we get clean again?" I couldnít touch him.
I donít know who he was
with in that moment,
what city he was in,
what moment called to him from the grave,
tugged him back down there.
I donít know how he felt
about going back,
how he felt
Today I thought of old Dr. Olmstead,
his white sparse hair, his shirt tucked tightly in.
I reached down to tuck my shirt in,