September 29, 2021

Heartbroken

George Gershwin’s last word, as he was dying of a brain tumor too late diagnosed,
waiting for the surgeon to arrive from overseas: Astaire.

The man was chasing me. I grabbed the closest thing at hand. It happened to be
a frying pan. I’d have hit him with it if I hadn’t waked up.

Linda wants to know what happens if you put an avocado in the fridge. I tell her
not to freeze it and not to peel it. She offers it to me.

The word avocado is descended from the Aztec word for testicles. I learn this
from a man fired for sexual harassment. I don’t tell Linda.

Thursday afternoon. Adam in his office, Kat on the couch, other people’s children
in the swimming pool, open windows. I could do anything.

Seventy-eight degrees. Sun. Roses in bloom. Azaleas in bloom. Geraniums in bloom.
Hydrangeas in bloom. Ocean on the wrong side.

Don’t you want to talk? Adam asks. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,
I’m moments away from disappearing. He means office, I hear forever.

Strange semi-numbness in my left forearm, at the same time overly sensitive.
The way a crystal vase would feel if a crystal vase could feel.

My first house a rental in Cambridge MA. My husband was in law school.
I made a lemon meringue pie. First and only. Pie, that is.

I’m floating in the pool, blue sky above. Like the ocean that circles earth,
Antarctica, India, Siberia, Guam, the sky goes everywhere.

My brother sent me the obituary of my old beau who sang with him at Yale.
Became a psychiatrist, married Allison, 2 daughters, dead at 77.

He didn’t come down to New York to see me off to Paris. Heartbroken.
I could tell by the way his father looked he’d end up with the nose of a pig.

The question was: what’s your favorite color? 1500 words. Adam answered yellow.
He thought sun, McDonald’s arches, daffodils, my summer skirt.

I thought the yellow rabbit-fur coat I bought for our two-year-old daughter
in Prague that she refused to wear and why it mattered.

I thought chicken, all the things I’m afraid of: everything.
Falling down the stairs of my spine, never able to open my skin again.

I just want everybody to leave me alone. I can hear old boxes
rattling in the closet, yellow screams issuing from the tea kettle.

Wednesday morning. Sage in bloom. Iris in bloom. 104 in the shade.
Observation, not complaining. Everything happening at once in Los Angeles CA.

And the day after I write the poem, I don’t know what to do with myself.
So I say it out loud, then silently, then over and over.

If he couldn’t remember a tune, Ira would visualize the vocal line,
trace its curves in the air. More often than not, George recognized the music.

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