I don’t have an answer for you, she said through the speaker in the door.
On the other side she could see her dark brown nipples through the sheer
slip she was wearing in the mirror. They’d been closed, like she said, a year
and a half, adding in her best familiar, "boys." She was getting out now
and didn’t want any more stirring the pot occurring, but she didn’t know
where they could go to get what they said they were looking for, a throw
of hips around their own until the love one bed could make would be over
and the speaker’s friend, the callow one, she knew, would be through . . .
We’re here for business, he knew he said, no question, but what an answer:
said she was ready, but she didn’t have a girl in the house working for her
so coming out of retirement would be the personification of her companion
that would never let on she might be as dark brown down there as up here
and that’s way back when this fishing port’s working women still had hair
uncut on their heads and unshaven between their legs. Who knows but there
were other reasons men went to whores to get what ordinarily was never
where you lived to weasel out of those vows you take when you marry . . .
Aberdeen, Washington, was not far from Seattle. Both were fishing towns
though Seattle was a city by then, its population increasing exponentially
daily, monthly, yearly, decadely (like we say now wearing bags of Lipton’s
under hats respectfully never worn until someone said, Let’s have a party
of our own! and said it with alarm mixed with surprise, you know how life is
when it seems nobody’s listening), and the fishing industry is all but ended,
so you can go into rock and roll but forget the sex, and drugs were always
illegal. All the fun had gone south of here to the City not in but by the Sea,
yet in the West, Poe said. Women there bedded you for next to nothing.
Someone still reads that poem when they can’t sleep and nothing’s on TV.
Or they pace all night, the boat going this way and that and how you stay
upright is up to you, you have to think about the words old age can’t see
without glasses you can’t afford on the social security they’ll take away,
their leaders say and will if they can this time: it’ll all go sailing off to Wall
in lower Manhattan where Arabs took down the two symbols of security
one fall day that started all this going to hell by putting a hole in the sky.
You know damn well there are still speakers in doors and women, even men
now the world’s changed for us all, are on the other side of the same door.
You can hear, can’t you? Barely, the voice inside replies. The birds are gulls
still and the totem poles sport birds who were their ancestors before Seattle
became big enough to have garbage dumps. You know in Mexico people
outside the only city that is the world’s largest now live among catacombs
of debris, carving out rooms for themselves where corpses of slain women
are dumped, who sold their bodies to get here and took the only job around.
All this started out as a dithyramb in waking up to what would have been
Tuesday, but days seem all the same now that the whorehouses shut down
in your youth. You don’t so much miss the action as you miss the first thrill
down there, the birds coming in when the boats return and the sky’s so blue
you hear the music in your head turn back in time to saints marching in
a closer walk to thee, O yes the church is there but priests die more than ever,
after all their vows deter them from loving life as much as other men like you
who keep pacing, thinking, and turning what you remember into the big words.
(5 October 2010)