Monday, October 26, 2015

Relevant Details by Catherine Pierce

Relevant Details

The bar was called The Den of Iniquity,
or maybe The Cadillac Lounge—whatever
it was, its sign was a neon martini glass,
or a leg ending in stiletto. Maybe a parrot. Anyway,
in that place I danced without anyone
touching me but seven men watched
from the bar with embered, truculent eyes.
Or I danced with my boyfriend’s hands
hot around my ribs. Or I didn’t have a boyfriend
and no one was looking and my dance moves
were nervous, sick-eel-ish, and eventually
I just sat down. What I remember for sure
is that was the night I drank well gin
and spun myself into a terrible headache.
That was the night I thought I was pregnant
and drank only club soda. That was
the night I made a tower from Rolling Rock
bottles sometime after midnight
and management spoke to me quietly
but only after snapping a Polaroid
for the bathroom Wall of Fame. In any case,
when I finally stumbled or strode
or snuck outside, the air was Austin-thick,
Reno-dry, Montpellier-sharp. I don’t remember
if my breath clouded or vanished
or dropped beneath the humidity. I don’t remember
if the music pulsing from inside
was the Velvet Underground or Otis Redding
or the local band of mustached banjo men.
You know this poem has a gimmick,
and you’re right. But understand: if I wrote
Cadillac Lounge, boyfriend, beer tower, soul
it would be suddenly true, a memory lit
by lightning flash. Who needs that sort
of confinement? If the way forward
is an unbending line, let the way back
be quicksilver, beading and re-swirling. Forgive
the trick and let me keep this mix-and-match,
this willful confusion of bars, of beaches,
of iced overpasses and hands on my hands,
all the films with gunfights, all the films
with dogs, the Kandinsky, the Rembrandt,
the moment the moon’s face snapped
into focus, the moment I learned
the word truculent, each moment the next
and the one before, and in this blur,
oh, how many lifetimes I can have.

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