Transparent Words - Poetry

 
Norbert Hirschhorn
WHEN I MARRIED HER,
 
               I married class.
She brought me into her world-wide network,
it was like a dowry.
        She stays in touch with every friend shes ever made
you know how it goes
                                                artists, singers, old lovers, even two ex-husbands.
 
Those guys would visit now and then,
just to be near her.
I was always gracious to them shed expect nothing less
but inside, I crowed:
Sucker! Shes in my bed now.
 
This should have a happy ending.  It doesnt. We got divorced. 
I know, I know,
I should have seen it coming. I was suffocating her, she said. She needed space, she said.
 
What can I say? I guess my jealousy showed.
 
When she went on tour Id want to know who she saw, I wanted to know who she spoke to.
Her late night calls from hotel rooms all over the world
made me frantic.
 
Every time shed call when I was out Id come home and listen to the answering machine;
I kept her voice, playing it over and over.
Such a lovely husky voice, like
Nina Simone.
 
Okay, so, hhmm, well
 
So, recently I visited her on one of my business trips to Africa.
Shes living happily in some village with her new man, hes an anthropologist; they dont have a post office or even a phone, and you know what? shes amazing, organizing the native women into a choir, transcribing their songs, she greeted me like the good old friend she expects me to be.  I was gracious.
In truth, I was just thrilled to hear her voice again.
 
Later, back at the hotel, I vomited.
 
Why are you looking at me like that?
You dont believe me.
You know me too well, dont you.
Im not so large of heart.
The village, the singing  
I made it all up.  Except the part about vomiting.
 
Look, she asked me for a divorce, then
she went off on another damn trip.
So before she came back to pack,
I prepared the basement.  A vault.
 
Sound proofed it.  A dumbwaiter.  Fixed up the bathroom.  Fitted it out with books,
an exercycle, TV, VCR, stereo, some plants, a UV lamp even.  A typewriter.
 
I give her whatever she needs, whatever she wants.  No telephone. 
 
Had to put the dog down though. You understand.
 
Now I send down the best gourmet take-out food every day.
 
I dont see her, I dont touch her, so help me,
any note she sends up
I dont even answer it.  Her perfume
clings to everything.
 
Ive hidden a microphone in the VCR.  I can hear her singing.  Blues, mostly.
Sometimes at night, I listen to her breathing.

 

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