Thank you for hosting such a wonderful party. The food
was marvelous, especially those prosciutto wrapped
baked scallops. And where did you find such delectable
sturgeon? And, of course, seeing you after so many. Your
home sumptuous understated magnificence. I love the
library. Is that truly an original Durer? Thank you, too,
for including Benjy. I thought he comported admirably
given his challenges. I know he felt significant. He so
struggles for normalcy. I love, dear Constance, your
unconditional humanitarianism. Who was that God-like
stud from Croton-on-Hudson. Relative? Or, no, could it
be! Connie, I’m so fatigued. I sometimes wish it were
ended. Again daffodils, again hydrangeas, yet no
expansiveness. Antidepressants seem laughable. Now
insomnia. I reminisce our Barnard days, such idealism.
Now Frank’s gone, and Charles, misguided Charles.
Wouldn’t shock me to hear…. I’ve enjoyed a peaceful
morning: Benedictine eggs, cantaloupe. I must start
exercising. Do you remember Darlene from Holyoke?
Tumbled off a ladder, shattered everything—we’re
all balsa. At Sunny Horizons Rehab, poor darling.
Connie, let’s take a Carnival cruise, the Yangtze—
Beijing, Xian, The Gorges—you and I. How marvelous
that would be. Connie. Don’t you see? It’s such a
shock, reality. Where is Holyoke? Think of all that
treacherous ice. Sometimes I feel like Bacon’s howling
Pope. Wouldn’t there be weeping cherries? Thank
you again for a lovely, you create such approachable
elegance. Truly, you are a trusted dear valued friend.
I think I’m going insane. I feel abstracted, disconnected--numb.
I’m indifferent to demise of others. Monstrous. Sometimes,
when slicing potatoes I fantasize homicide. Intellectualism,
all that obtuse yammering, sickens, such strutting egotism.
Contempt, Maj, is my undoing. History mauls us insensate.
Alien. I love that word, alien, alienation, dispossession. In
one being can existence and nonexistence simultaneously
exist ? Rhinoceroses come to mind. Hippopotami. Immense
lumbering anachronisms. How their joints must ache. Don’t
you think everybody knows? Everybody, that is, of maturity?
The pieces one’s labor rips out, those brutal offices.
Marjorie, I look at Richard and suffer. His shaggy scrotum
hanging like suicide. Something like melted wax pulls off
in hands. Dick, oh Dick, who is the crucifixion. Don’t you
think, Maj, we’re all The Christ? Let’s lunch tomorrow—
at Leonardo’s --please say yes. Since Janie and Donnie evaporated…
I love the risotto. One becomes automatous. Confession:
I have begun to drink. I’ve told nobody. After Dick leaves.
I do in nightgown with jigsaws--Seurat, Renoir—splash of
Stolichnaya. Naughty me, without velocity. You seem so
knuckled into life, like tires knobbing mud. Envy, perhaps,
after all, I’m not chloroformed, just anger inwardly driven,
self-castigated. Anyway, alcohol pieces me together. Use-
lessness blurs edges. It’s me as much as him: Dick and I
never fuck. Do you and Bert? We’re bored. One walks
a long way to boredom, past children, passion, purpose,
suffering, past brilliance to the blank cliff face. What lies
beyond boredom, Marjorie? I see exhausted gorgeous
women side-by-side, bereft, barefoot, cold, diving off
earth—sexy pointed toes--into the abyss. Perhaps, after all,
I’m lesbian. Such beautiful fragile souls soundlessly falling.
Since Robbie died I’ve been summoning God, un-
successfully; when does God ever appear? Lately
I’ve noticed my big toenail thickening like rhino
horn. Fuck God. I need succor, get frippery.
Christianity sucks. There’s no supernaturalism.
Biochemistry is God: depression, ecstasy, despair,
love. I could die of this. Robert and his casting
reels. The man worshipped fishing. Only moments
between thighs bested angling, and of that I’m
insecure. He never warbled there. Vagina now
is strung with spider webs. Brain, too. What an
instrument, the body: organs, skeleton, muscle,
blood dammed by skin. Air sucked through follicles.
Alveoli. What a word: alveoli. Erectility. Copulation,
multiplication. If God were solid like crystal. I
have decanters, platters, candlesticks. What does
one do, Carly? You’d think He’d be available,
like gelato. I’m painting nails today—Oxblood,
Poppy, Bordeaux Lust. I’m thinking of The Rub-
ber Monkey or Wetlands tonight. Interested?
Will Marco let you out? Two cars just in case.
Hell, since Robert it’s never been good. He had
such thick fingers. It’s back to that: body. Think
of that magic trick in which illusionist passes
hoop round levitating woman—who is me—
disconnected, floating, comatose, proving The
Miraculous. Then curtain falls, rises, magician,
assistant bow on stage to wild applause. Physics
is irrefutable reality. Damn God his little magic
show. At midnight janitor throws final switch
and gravity smashes heavenly bodies to bits.
God spoke to me today: I satisfactorily evacuated bowels,
read Death of Ivan Ilych. Not everyone can thusly boast.
So much malnutrition, illiteracy. That I comprehend Tolstoy
in gastrointestinal unawareness is blessing. I am gryoscopically
blueprinted, lucid. When Tolstoy writes, “…Praskovya
Fedorovna was not always conducive to the pleasures
and amenities of life, but on the contrary often infringed
on both comfort and propriety and he must therefore
entrench himself against such infringement,” God
blesses me with comprehension. Surely, I am within rights.
I may impute from my advantages God’s existence.
My heart pumps perfect pressure, brain withstands
termites. Grace. Vibration. Ecstasy. Pen, I tell thee
I am light; pure helium. One is unaware of one’s
beautiful spinning. Penny, Penny, clean summer sun
washes grass. Let’s invade the lake, two old biddies spilling
over pants. Who cares about cellulite. We are justifiable
animals. I have two tins of smoked clams. Today God
opened dungeon door and out walked I into blinding
bright. I perceived lips upon my lips. See, I am voided,
right as newborn babe. Honor this child, this widowed
ancient child whom God hath anointed this day April
twenty-seventh, two-thousand fourteen, Anno Domini.
Vapors scud overhead, flimsy as rent rags.
Leafy spears stab, twist into blue flesh.
Nipping wind lacerates naked shingles.
Seven slitherers mass in multicolored pulp.
Please tell me what to do, I’m so alone, shipwrecked
and no God stands before me. This is what it’s like,
hopelessness, eaten face at center of nothing, hot
howling. Lottie, you have Bernard and little Bobbie
and I imagine spontaneous hilarity at serving spoon.
Home with jungle gym, hydrangeas while I live in
unit 7-C with Benjamina. I’m too retiring. Too
shamed. I still have mama. I’ve never divulged: I
paint lips thick, troll for sex. It’s dangerous, therefore,
exhilarating. I could be killed. I love strange men
fucking me. It’s death wish I surmise. Last Friday I
took two successively. I craved a third. Godless,
abandoned, shut out. I confess to whoredom.
Lottie, I can’t. Come tonight. I can’t. It’s too
horrible. Moldy pages. Lamentation. Psalm. All
mold. You know your Sandy, fragile, shaky. I’ve
started smoking cigarettes. Am I disgusting?
(My nose is narrow-grotesque.) You are nonjudg-
mental. I have blustery thighs. A little honesty: I
hate myself. Where is Mr. Omnibenevolent One?
You haven’t got Him all. Great Cardiologist
to hammer my heart? Open yourself, they say,
He will build nest of love. I have been gaping
for decades to absence of nightingale. Lottie—
Loretta--tell me what to do. You are so in ecstasy.
Earth lashes its back, weeps rivers.
Little green flame-tips cut through death.
Pillow experiences quakes of delirium.
Scream-threaded needle pierces eardrum.
Progress! God entered me like flashlight squiggle.
I conceived! I carry zygote. Spittle fuses me to
pillow. Savoir Faire, God debonair, God hot
caramel. Me in ecstasy! I am bigger by the
minute. I wear night like stole of diamonds.
Remember my atheism? All slime, onion.
How I coupled with garbage, chin full of gin.
Debauchery, whoredom, Sodom, depravity.
I guffawed like slattern. Now divinity. Tuned
instrument. Sphere within sphere. Gyroscope
whirring. Hail Mary, full of God’s semen.
I am sacred. Uncorrupted. Risen. I am loaf.
Into me shoots music, out me lyrics. I love
my rapist’s execration who deserves
rehabilitative caressing. Jesus is my aorta.
Redemptive is my murderer. Eleanor, you
see? Life is not mud in doomed nostrils, nor
helium-filled knees of satisfied delusion.
Come to me. Drink my tincture. Open your
stuffed swampy stumps to the Mad Creator.
I am sorry I pray like a child--
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I hear no voice, I feel no touch,
Help us do the things we should—
Such canned simple-mindedness—
Yet possess no instruction for wisdom-prayer
Commensurate with physical maturity.
Perhaps You want us stunted,
Wrapped in pre-pubescence gauze
For Your despotic studio.
Heavenly Father, I might plead,
I might beseech, Dear Apocalyptic One,
Strike Viv’s mass benign,
Alone at home with memories.
Arm her antibodies with howitzers.
Is this admirable petition
Or egotistical compartmentalization?
Feed hungry, heal sick, bestow peace
Seems delusional as if mop could
Wash every streak.
Then for my soul alone?
Forgiveness. Absolution. Purification.
Appreciation of my tortured mate.
Dear Father, I am tabula rasa
For Your pastel stick,
Smear purple prayer
Across my breast,
Gouge with thick profundity
My vascular walls
Into Your abstract masterpiece.
Dear Stephanie and Charles,
I look at you, see God. Devotion so thick,
you would die for each other. You are brick.
Blessing and achievement. Most people,
even coupled, suffer godless loneliness
in atheistic desertification. You walk in
grace sun-gilded. I can only imagine. I
can fantasize. What confidence must be
yours. Staff, sandaled feet is all required.
You are Lamb. While I, dear I…Am
full of soda. How do you do it? Is it
Princeton or inheritance, concerted
psychology? I see you through sixth
iniquity, through venous lens of sin.
I cannot enjoy though your love
envelopes. Oh Steph, Chuck pity
your wretched friend full of Pepsi Zero.
I want to walk in glow beribboned.
Disingenuous to entreat God I reject.
Or might I hedge?—Pascal’s wager.
Light and dark play upon your face,
innocence in the precinct of lust,
children. Oh babes, give me pluses.
Honor covers envy like paper rock.
I am transit. Torque flattens my
face. This song is yours my beautiful
best bosoms, leave me to my jigsaws.
(I’ve almost finished Klimt!) Surely,
aproned God in studio chips away.
I have known men with licorice hair.
My angel blood coats jealousy’s jaws.
I have always envied those God loves.
Through splattered windshield of atheistic materialism
I’ve admired people I considered flawless--charitable,
selfless, spiritual, optimistic. I’ve grown to hate them.
At night God’s absence corrodes this infidel. Doubtful
faithlessness’s causality, but interesting how this atheist
failed at love. One eats one’s self and starves. Franny,
sixty-five years normalizes deficiency. Nobody notices
the ubiquitously visible. I’m still unabashedly, regardless
universe’s incomprehensible complexity, godless. I
just am. I grate my spiritual insufficiency into slivers,
willing to disintegrate, but cells crave otherwise. I’m
thick hard core, almost steel. Mystifying that I channel
you from freshman year, nineteen-sixty nine, freckled,
raven-haired coed, surname snapped off mind like
twig. You’re cloudy imagery, Jewish sensuality at
dormitory pool. I have gone through many. Franny,
I wonder how life has carried you, cancer perhaps,
emotional trauma? Some muddle unaccompanied.
So long ago we spilled onto Congress, outraged,
chanting antiwar slogans, oblivious to God. Stephanie,
Nancy, Cookie, Todd. I haven’t a clue. It matters,
though. History’s thick gauze swallows life that
dazzled. I’m too intelligent to believe in God.
We’re two mountaineers in motion picture, chests pressed
to rock, forearms locked together over sharp edge of cliff.
I’m rescuing you from tumbling left into abyss, or frame
Tilted ninety degrees you’re rescuing me from scraping
down face on right. Foreheads pop beads. Pain yanks
grunt. “Hang tight, got you,” we sputter.” God’s amused
at pitiful climbers desperately co-dependent. We slip
down sweaty muscular flesh. Sturdy fingers, grit. Carleton
saving Gordon, Gordon Carleton. Eternally. God chuckles
at nature’s imperative. Brother hauling brother. Grip
broken one would plummet. Tendons rip. “Hang tight!”
The peace we might know, releasing. No grip is flawless.
God smacking Milk Duds bores, walks out—only one watch-
ing—leaving two quivering buggers in unobserved horror.