You Rescued me from a Rat (take 2)

(I reworked this old poem into a prose poem with the help of my phenomenal poetry instructor at Grub. Excited and in love with the craft)

I dreamt that you rescued me from a rat.  In a nameless hotel, somewhere in the center of an equally nameless town…You and I, notwithstanding the rat, as subjects of the same sentence, are a rarity in itself.  In all my proximity to you that, incidentally, does not exist in any town that bears a name. I warn you, kind Reader, the details will be limited.  After all, none of this actually happened.  I dreamt it, memorized having previously imagined it with great care, I wrote – you rescued me from a rat.  Another disappointing side note (should have really been included as preface). The rescue was utterly unromantic.What on earth possessed you to write of all people about me? (Mihi crede, it wasn’t your characteristic monotone.) As you and I age, something remains (prior to our actual remains, pardon the pun). You are oh-so-fortunate to be able to blame bad memory and to have wished your good one away. I hold on to our, even if coincidentally shared memories; cut and pasted.But back to the dream…You sojourned with your family – new wife and two girls, the oldest – little you with lighter hair, lighter you. I was staying alone, with pages upon pages of stories to read and my own to imagine…Sitting on pillow top (on top of the world, really!), drunken in my happiness to attend a literary conference. (Didn’t I warn you about utter lack of romance?) Amongst other treats was a tidy room, ambition to write and delicious quiet…But right when I got situated on top of a queen sized bed – a rat scurried across the floor. Priorities shift and I teleport (What subconscious has time for running, no matter how hurried?).  Teleported into an endless hallway with stained red rugs, foreboding some sequence from The Shining (God, Please not the twins…Between two (three?) evils, I choose deranged Jack Nicholson.) But instead of all the gore, I found myself before you, in your quotidian calmness as though this is just what we always do – I see a rat and appear before you breathless. What is it now? -you ask and I detect your characteristic monotone but also a combination of pity and sarcasm peppered with feigned lack of interest.(Welcome, change!) And again and again I ask myself whether we would still be friends if you were less calm, less tolerant? Dreams don’t wait for chatty women to finish their thoughts….You disappeared into my hotel room and next thing I remember – your girls are playing with the rat, your wife increasingly unsure about the new pet… The rescue is complete.  A friend is made. My room is set for work. God knows, a lot of work is left. But drunken happiness is gone? Perhaps the rat has taken it?

iPhone, youPhone.

Your voice seeps into my ear through the almost forgotten medium of a phone conversation 

The idea that you and I are having a conversation is a novelty in itself. The juvenile melody of this prose /poem is nothing but an attempt to hold on to youth and the right to talk, think about you like a school girl.

You speak, my silence makes you stutter, I know I should say something to ease you into comfort. After all you are the one who (finally!) called to talk. So I keep breathing and listening to the notes of insecurity in your voice. 

Your voice, stuttering and all,  is so much bigger than you are in person. It seeps into my ear and fills me up whole. For a moment I am nothing but your voice. 

You vibrate inside my ear drum, stream along my blood vessels, and I can barely concentrate on the actual words. You are calling to ask for my help. No, not the help I wish you would ask for. 

You say that you don’t want to take my time. As I let your voice seep into my being, I am lulled by its omnipresence and I want to tell you that this is all I can give you. Time. But that would be inappropriate. So I say that I am, in fact, exceedingly busy. And then I wonder if my voice sounded cute. 

pre-birthday lyricism 

As another year creeps in to take over….

My mind, thoughts, plans (with warnings of setbacks

Brought on by age, and even more so by ageism)

All turn to the old adage –

We regret the things we haven’t done far more than the things we did 

Do.

Two more years to a number frightening in the sheer weight of its phonetics 

I never thought I could get old(er).

Each passing year is calling for a narrower/longer mirror 

I deceive myself that choices made earlier are forgiven

I tell myself that it was ok to love more than you.

—-

Comparative studies make me despise myself 

(If it is ok for her to love-live with a man who loves other men and probably loves her less, but respects her more and is a great father to their three kids; my heart is getting smaller with each year that it beats. Colder too.) 

But they also make me kinder in a way similar to the yet new mirror and it’s phantasmagoric effects on my waistline 
I draw juxtapositions, I try not to picture other people in compromising positions 

Only sometimes I do.

The girl that cries over birds and saves more than one apartment can fit – despises people. “Only people can hurt/cage/starve/abandon birds.”

She stopped eating chicken. But continues judging.

What after all is kindness? 

Is defending a turkey, superior in the end, to the right of other people to not be judged about their weight. After all people aren’t turkeys and their weight doesn’t determine their worth, their fate…

She would say this juxtaposition is flawed because I am looking at it from the viewpoint of a human. 

Another year. Another tale.

You are a man. And I am not one. I dream of your hand and mine as one. 

This poem is one epic fail. But I will most likely always remain your tail. Even if I occasionally swerve to follow another.

Be patient. Somebody told me that crushes are a disease. Fever subsides and you wonder what did you see before that now resembles dust 

Who was it that wrote about love (who didn’t ?) -while emotions burn it’s a hypnotic fire of orange and red. But it all burns down to ashes…

Who wants to look at those?

Or think about them?

Margot. Chapter 1.

Margot drove without thinking that she already drove here many times before; in this state of mind, to this particular person. And each previous trip ended the same exact way, with same exact feelings with few minor variations. By now she recognized this feeling well – restlessness fueled by anger resulted in the usual, this-is-what-drug-addicts-must-feel need for revenge and connection all at the same time.

She was born in early June, and people who were fans of assigning meanings to things didn’t hesitate to remind her that she was a Gemini and was bound to spend her life torn between opposite emotions. Margot, herself, wasn’t a big fan of astrology or anything that attempted a definitive explanation; she loved the open-ended nature of things, that way the door was always open for an occasional surprise or two.

Margot drove down a familiar street, briefly looked at her phone hoping that Sawyer had texted something reminiscent of an apology, but she knew him all too well. The text message was from her mom, asking how her grandson was doing.

She thought she struck something with the side of her car but it wasn’t loud enough, or significant enough to worry about consequences. She only hoped that she didn’t hurt a deer as that would have been absolutely awful.

Margot stopped at an eerily empty parking lot by the 24-hour CVS. She knew that once she dialed the number the course of tonight would be determined…Oh-how-a- part-of-her wanted to go back home, go to bed, and wake up tomorrow so happy that she turned around at the very last moment. Oh-to-be-able to lecture equally conflicted girlfriends on the ability of self-control, to use this example at the end of a moralistic story of self-awareness and integrity, would be sweeter than hot chocolate from a café she recently discovered that used real melted chocolate instead of powder. But this story wasn’t destined to become one of morality and power of choice, it became a series of stories quickly forgotten by Margot and quickly forgotten by him…

She called him and said that she had a fight with her husband and wanted company. He said to give him twenty minutes; there was an emergency at the office, he was a dentist and emergency, Margot imagined, meant someone’s inflamed tooth chasing them out of their cozy home into a brightly lit torture-chair in John’s office.

It never ceased to amuse Margot that people referred to John as a doctor and the mindless nature in which everyone put two letter D and R infront of his name never gave her peace. Perhaps it was jealousy fueled by her own decision to leave medical school in her first year. She never did get used to working with a cadaver. Everyone said she would. The nausea was relentless, in part due to her pregnancy with her daughter but more likely brought on by the nonchalant manner in which her classmates ate their sandwiches next to Bob (the name they gave their cadaver). John was a dentist and Margot never knew if he had to work with cadavers but she did know that he graduated and unlike her had a job, solid income and was in fact a doctor. In fact, this same doctor once hit his head on the low doorframe because she lifted her shirt as a joke. Some joke. Both were long married by then. It was his birthday and she drove to his office because somehow it never occurred to her that spending a man’s birthday with him is a job of his wife or mother, but definitely not that of a friend, not at their respective ages. Back then, on his birthday, he was trying to finish up with paperwork for the day and Margot was as loud and annoying and giddy as she always was when her husband wasn’t around. She turned the computer on and blasted music videos on YouTube one after another. He was annoyed, as his secretary was still there and so was the patient. But also he wasn’t. He ran from one office to another checking something…What was he checking? Work stuff never interested Margot. Margot turned the music on louder and started dancing in the halls of his practice. First in subdued, self-controlled way but later just jumping with abandon, arms flailing around, head bopping, singing along. She noticed that he was watching her from across the hallway and smiling, so she smiled back and lifted her short in celebration of her silliness and lack of boundaries they always felt with one another. Or maybe it was his birthday present as she never had the money or the right to buy him a present that she really wanted to buy. He looked at her bra with polka dots and walked into the low-hung doorway. His forehead swelled up right before her eyes and if he didn’t look as in pain as he did, she would just sit down on the floor and laugh. But she had to find some ice and apologize for her immature behavior. Later they got some Chinese food and everyone in the restaurant thought they were an old-married couple and were just too lazy to cook tonight.

She went inside CVS and bought some gum and clear lip gloss.   Flipped through a magazine thinking if she was as skinny and as well-taken-care-of as all those, any of those celebrities then her life would not be a perpetual mess of fights, midnight driving, adventures that she really didn’t want.

She got back in the car. Opened up her mirror and thought for someone who cried for hours she looked quite good. Maybe that was really the case, or perhaps, the darkness and the angle of the mirror worked for her. She opened up her new lip gloss, applied it and immediately felt like a slut.

A few minutes later Margot was on his couch with her feet underneath her, playing Guitar Hero and feeling about half of her actual age. John was on the phone with his wife. She was at her mother’s lake house in New Hampshire with their 5-year-old daughter. John paced in the kitchen and it was obvious to Margot that he wanted to get off the phone. He spoke in single syllable monotone: yes, no, yes, at Two, yes, no, no….Margot watched his free hand tapping on the freezer side of the refrigerator, on the wall next to the endless drawings of their daughter, on the table… She thought about the first time she saw his hands up close and how it occurred to her that they weren’t really a fair match to his upper arms in the discordancy of strength and size of his muscle and the slenderness of his fingers. But he offered her comfort and she chose not to overanalyze. And now, when her glance caught the tablecloth she thought of his wife, and how she probably had no idea that her husband was cheating. Margot’s giddiness started evaporating. The lime-green pears of the tablecloth and the matching kitchen towels were nauseating in their tasteless tackiness but they were homey, as tasteless decorations often are. Margot thought about the wife picking the tablecloth and how she must have looked for matching towels, and how finding them must have made her happy in a way that women get once the puzzle piece fits into the general picture of what they imagine as the ideal. Margot realized that her usual and useless empathy got a firm hold of her emotions yet again, but she couldn’t stop. For all she knew this tablecloth was a gift and the wife was too cheap to throw it out so she put it to use, but the idea already implanted itself and tortured her – John’s wife loved her husband, she loved their family, home, their kitchen and the God-forsaken tablecloth with pears was chosen with love. Margot barged into the perfect puzzle and was riding over it with the wheels of her problems, the way her son always rode over his friends’ board games and puzzles with his toy SWAT car. Margot sat barefoot on the couch, with her bare feet tucked underneath her bum, but she somehow felt as though she never took her shoes off because how else could she have dragged the dirt from the outside into this cozy house on a hill where pears on the tablecloth match the pears on the towels but the man for whom this comfort was created couldn’t wait to get off the phone and…

The guilt was all consuming and it was easier to turn back to the tv screen and continue with her game, mindlessly pressing the buttons. She didn’t notice that John was done talking and sat down next to her and was watching her.

“You know you are not very good at this,” he said. He proceeded to take the controls away from her. Noticing that she wasn’t impressed with his Guitar Hero prowess, he asked if she wanted to watch something. Margot nodded.

Habitually, they never got through the first ten minutes of the film. And when Margot woke up the next morning she thought that she shouldn’t have come here. She checked her phone and saw two text messages from Sawyer who was wondering where she was, but wondering in a way that seemed very casual. Assuming, she, Margot, was alright, would she be ok to drive their son to his Saturday swim lesson so that he, Sawyer, could go and play baseball with a few friends from work.   She could.

She went to take a shower, intended to do it quickly and rush home to drive her son to swimming, hoping that this normal part of the Saturday routine routine would extricate her from the guilt of the night before. But when the water hit her hair, she froze, she stood and thought of John and his tenderness to her….He has said things that made her hope that he was different with his wife, but why did it matter. Why does it matter how people give parts of themselves to others? All that matters is they had a connection…but what does one do with the weight of knowledge that one’s ache, union, romance has the potential to hurt someone else who has no part in that bond? And was it, in fact, Margot who had no part?

She washed her hair quickly with remnants of his Suave for Men shampoo; she wouldn’t dare touch his wife’s more expensive label that promised to nourish and resurrect the hair and maybe even more… Even though Margot knew that, without any conditioner at all, her curly hair will be a dry, tangled mess and the rest of the day she will feel insecure in public, but that perhaps was well deserved. She also knew that she simply couldn’t help herself to the wife’s conditioner not after she had helped herself to her husband.

Margot was in a hurry and she barely dried herself. It was uncomfortable putting her clothes while she was still wet but she had to make it home in time to drive her son. She snuck out of the bathroom and ran straight into John who saw her dressed and looked half-sad and half-relieved.

Song of the Rail Wheels

There is a lot to be said about being a kid,

a lot has been said…

there is a lot to be said about nostalgia

a lot has been said…

Lying on your stomach, propped up

(More power to your elbows)

something about the top couchette of a train car

ta da ta da ta da – the song of the rail wheels….

My mom never thought it was safe for a kid to sleep

At that height

And all I wanted was some height

Some different perspective from the one she has given me.

Continues to give…

Ta da ta da ta da

Grass flying by so fast its an-etch-a-sketch grass as opposed to

real.

Occasional tree joins the blurry dotted sketch

Only to be erased by the race and the song of the wheels

ta da ta da ta da

“Mom, do twenty-seven-minutes go slower if you watch them go?”

(Only my grandfather’s old watch to play with)

“Stop wasting time and read or …” she says from the bottom couchette

and part of me wished she didn’t say anything.

Is watching time really the same as wasting it?

You Rescued Me From a Rat

I dreamt that you rescued me from a rat

In a nameless hotel, somewhere in the center of an equally nameless town.

You and I, notwithstanding the rat, is a rare instance in itself…

I whine, frown, beg for help

In all my proximity to you that, incidentally, does not exist in any town that bears a name.

I warn you, kind reader, the details will be limited…

After all, none of this actually happened.

I dreamt it, memorized having previously imagined it with great care, i wrote –

You rescued me from a rat….

Another disappointing side note (should have really been included as preface)

The rescue was utterly unromantic

As is our entire thread of communication – connection of the digital age.

As you and I age, something remains timeless.

You are oh-so-fortunate to be able to blame bad memory,

(or to have wished your good one away.

Remember, Plato and his teacher

We are “all fighting a hard battle

Be kind to everyone you meet”)

Sometimes I ask myself if we would, in fact be friends, if I was less sentimental

And you less kind?

I hold on to our, even if coincidentally shared

Memories; cut and pasted

Out of Commercials for Kodak,

The ones that seem far more intent on fishing for tears

Than new customers.

But back to the story of the dream/imagination

Sigmund Freud awakened and paying attention;

You sojourned with your family – new wife and two girls, the oldest – your spitting image.

I was staying alone, with pages upon pages

Of stories to read and ponder…

Sitting on pillow top, on top of the world really, drunken in my happiness to attend

A treat from my subconsciousness – a literary conference.

(Didn’t I warn you about utter lack of romance?)

If only I didn’t always run towards the door…

Amongst other treats was a tidy room, ambition to write and delicious quiet…

But right when I got situated on top of a queen sized bed – a rat scurried across the floor.

Priorities shift and I teleport

(Whose subconsciousness has time for running, no matter how hurried?)

Like I said, i teleported into an endless hallway with stained red rugs

Foreboding some sequence from The Shining

(God, Please not the twins…

Between two (three?) evils, I choose deranged Jack Nicholson.)

But instead of all the gore, I found myself before you, in your quotidian calmness

As though this is just what we always do – I see a rat and appear before you breathless.

What is it now?

You ask and I detect your characteristic combination of pity and sarcasm

Peppered with feigned lack of interest

And again and again I ask myself

Would we still be friends if you were less calm, less tolerant?

Dreams don’t wait for chatty women to finish their thoughts….

You disappeared into my room and next thing I remember

Your girls are playing with the rat,

Your wife increasingly unsure about the new pet…

The rescue is complete.  A friend is made.  My room is set for work.

God knows, a lot of work is left.

But drunken happiness is gone

Perhaps the rat has taken it?

***

The idea that I may somehow get this under control

And breathe at the rate at which people around me seem to breath

function…

Is not only unattainable its cruel, cruel because I am

wired differently…

From normal.

Days fly so fast that sometimes I feel as though I am holding on to them

As a newly unloved grabbing on to the door-window-any-surface of a car

That is speeding away with the one that is still loved at the wheel.

Please stop.

I ease into my new routine with a stronger, more confident heartbeat than usual

Part of aging, it seems, is accepting that this is it- until

Lack of bad news, unapologetically, becomes good news.

 

And then the dance between knowing what is right and feeling like, maybe,

All this talk of mortality is just out there to scare us.

How can I not? Breathe-think-obsess-fear-not feel this guilt?

Again, acceptance.

I. Really. Will. Die.

And as soon as these words line up – memento mori – the most basic of all excuses

Then all attempts to not talk to You are in vain;

I try to free myself from rhyme, from its familiar guilt

To set the same boundaries I tried to break over and over again…

You know how it goes…

Sum Licens Solus Fidens

But, my fear is just as certain as my death.