Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
print version

Postcard of Peter Lorre Embracing Lotte Lenya, 1929

Momentarily, he’s my young father
refusing to break the news he’s been laid off
and lay the groundwork for divorce. It’s difficult to explain.
The mind rehearses, playing dress-up with a life.
He cannot hook the woman, his pinkies trained
perpendicularly. A vintage dress shirt slips from the line.
Pulling away in the middle of a dance, dancers become
movement on a floor—off-white, chamois. In his silence,
who is she, closing her eyes, four strands of her boy’s hair
combed purposefully aside, allowing the white
of her raincoat to mask him? Mother, wife, coat.
She arches her back to receive his despondent head.
She puffs up her small breasts. Soft music’s at work again,
a stereophony of “Love is Tender” romancing the age.
For six months my father dressed for work and wandered
no one will ever know where, Hotel Kempinski, say,
where he sat mutely in the plush barber’s chair
dreaming he was as tall and modern as Peter the Great.    

return to top