7:00pm, Give What You Can
Join us to celebrate the publication of Barbara Wuest's Shadowy Third (Aldrich Press, 2016) and Suzanne Scanlon's Her 37th Year, An Index (Noemi Press, 2015)!
Suzanne Scanlon is the author of Promising Young Women (Dorothy, 2012) and Her 37th Year, An Index (Noemi, 2015). She lives in Chicago and teaches in the creative writing programs of Columbia College and Roosevelt University.
Not a fan you can cool yourself with
or one your mother can use to chase
away flies that disturb the peace she
longs for, evenings on the porch swing.
You can only enjoy the shimmer of lines
lines running so near one another they’re
about to meet, only marvel at the stem’s
upper edge that guards the invisible source
where all the lines begin, only twirl the small
wonder the Chinese think sacred, uttering
the string-played name of ginkgo, ginkgo.
It’s always about the glory of loss, prettiness,
about color warmer than anything you can say.
Yet, in the middle of the day, by myself and
knowing it so completely I end up shivering in
this warmest of falls, questions being alive asks
pounding from the core of my heart, not my
real heart, slowed now from quiet, but that
second heart all children expose in tantrums,
the one visiting constantly, saying under each
breath you take you are you the only you...
I believe in sons and daughters going
through the cities’ turnstiles, through
the ivy archways of small, quiet towns,
some staying like stray pollen, others
leaving with their luggage full of failure
and maps to places it might not be.
I believe the striations in the sky after rain
call the least of us to flights
we don’t have wings enough to make.
And that we all end up in our own
closets of guilty self-respect whether
forced to land on cement or open field.
When the subway roars under my feet
I know my own blood bullets through me
with that same rage to get somewhere.
And I believe the heat from this speed
means at least you’re alive, for now,
and at least I’m disturbed beyond
my perfect cycle, my song, at least.
Like a good student, Roxana books the sitter, makes dinner reservations, and buys theater tickets. Beckett's Krapp’s Last Tape, at the big theater downtown. It’s old and gaudy, all chandeliers and red velvet. They sit in the soft seats, the first ones in their row. Looking around as the audience filters in, Robert remarks on how youthful he feels among this particular crowd.
“We may be the only two under 40!” he declares.
Roxana listens to two women behind her, pre-theater chat. One wears a perfume that brings to mind a long lost aunt who used to kiss Roxana and her sisters goodbye, whispering, I’ll see you in my dreams!
“He’s trying to set me up with his brother. But his brother is older than he is!”
“What is he, 104?”
“I guess. I don’t need that. I don’t need to take care of someone.”
“No, you don’t. You need someone younger than you.”
“Yes. I need a companion.”
“It’s the loneliness. The loneliness is awful.”
“And it doesn’t get better."
“It doesn’t get better. Listen, I’ll tell you—the loneliness is the shits. It’s the shits!”
“And there’s nothing to be done about it.”
“No. As my friend Ronnie says, It is what it is.”
“It is what it is.”
At the office, Debbie, a tall redhead who seems permanently stoned, wants to include Roxana in an informal poll:
“Okay. So your husband comes to you and says, ‘Honey, I slept with someone.” Would you rather he say, like Mark Sanford, “And she’s my soulmate” --
“Oh dear God.”
“--Or, like Eliot Spitzer, he says, and she’s a prostitute.”
“Nope. Pick one.”
The table in the lunchroom is full of treats: chocolates, Oreos, banana bread and ginger snaps. Roxana takes a bite of a cookie, crumbs fall onto her sweater. She smiles when Debbie says again, “Well?” shakes her head and shrugs.