As Cathleen knows, Irish is no boon. It just is,
she says, and I could not be prouder, honey.
She is painting her toes, her fingernails drying.
I say, You got a date tonight, already . . . ?
That’s a line from the old days. She called
and said No, I can go to the movies with you.
So I took her to see Tale of the Late Chrysanthemums,
which at least she stayed awake through, unlike
The Lady Eve, She recognized the Kabuki star
the maid urged on when he was nobody,
like me, and Maria Theresa, who will I don’t know
get upset hearing me talk about her like this . . .
Questionmark. Irish Cathleen wanted to sleep,
please know, she couldn’t get it out of her mind,
she says later, how much you resemble the guy
riding the boat down the river where it ends
with his true love dying next to him . . . Mizoguchi
loved whores, I say. This is one lady who was
anything but . . . So Irish Cathleen goes home
and takes a call, mind you, and it isn’t even me.
The only boat I’m going to ride is . . . well, who
could know? Even I blank out when I reach
for answers. And she folds me into her, you know,
like this . . . So, friends, she’s teaching school
and the kid keeps asking for a hall pass, and
I don’t know if the twerp gets one or not, I’m
not even there, I’m going entirely on what
the lady says. She doesn’t tell me any business
she’s had or has or will have . . . she’s Irish,
after all, and a quarter Polish and as much
Danish, which is where she gets the beautiful
olive skin. Not that Danes bequeath olive skin.
I’m just guessing. She calls the Polish Prussian;
if I remind her of Germany’s history she quails
as only she can, offering me a very taut nipple.
I can’t expect anything more, it’s been so long
and I’m so spoiled by her, I could get out of town
if I had a hall pass, and who knows? maybe she
is waiting for a reason to lop me off her love list.
Still, I want one . . . a hall pass . . . and she says
to use it wisely, she’s already sacrificed nothing.
I go back to the movies. I’m watching Ugetsu,
the potter’s late wife returns at the end, a ghost.
The actual ghost, where is she? She already was
a ghost and she lived in a very lovely little castle
haunting every man with her beauty and wisdom.
He’s enthralled, captivated, lost in her miasmic
charisma. That’s Irish’s two-word phrase for it.
She says, He was just a dumb potter, his wife
was left for the soldiers to find when said potter
went off to love his ghost woman. Who is Ugetsu?
From there it’s back to more Mizoguchi Kenji,
as the Japanese say and americanos wonder why.
Or Oshima Nagisa. Imamurat Shohei. Kurosawa,
Ozu, no need for any other name if you have film
history on your side, marching off to aesthetic war
. . . That’s enough. Go home for potatoes and soup
if you don’t have enough for tonight and tomorrow.
You have work to do here. Don’t go off to Ulster
without saying goodbye. Or Dublin. Molly Bloom
will become your alter ego, and not like before . . .
Let’s go see The French Lieutenant’s Woman again.
Or Ryan’s Daughter, we’ll go to the revival house
and sit through the sermon so we can get in line.
Better yet, said I to her, let’s go to bed and fuck
ourselves into oblivion, if that’s okay with you,
honey wonder. The Japanese do it anytime . . .
They have more style than we do, they endure
the lag in time, but once begun it may never end.
Maria Theresa says, You’re wasting your cojones,
gringo, come over here and let me see your pass,
I’ll stamp it so when you go back to the country
you will have a place to sleep. Or stay here . . .
I think I will, I reply. She says, Suit yourself . . .
I think I will, I’ve missed Manhattan so long
I feel in exile. So does Irish Cathleen, Maria says.
How do you know? I ask. She shuts me up. She
knows how. She went to the baths today already.
If I have to live here, I like to smile, it’s with you
I’m glad. She says, "I’m glad to be with you" and I
agree. There. You vindicated my existence and you
are the only teacher I have ever wanted for myself
only. She corrects me, habitually: Maria Teresa . . .
Maria Teresa, I say . . . Let’s go begin all over again.
This time, she says, You can watch the logorrhea.
(3 April 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander