Who in the middle of the night will write poetry
imagining a rain forest replacing wild flowers
in your terrace garden, a banana fish floating
past your bedroom windows, or notice the
thin stem green plant bending its neck
toward your reading lamp dropping
leaves on the novel that pleased
I am the witness so solidly framed
by my own illusions you have to
take your tongue out of its
metal lock box and swat
me down like a fly.
Flee or stay, but do
not speak of taking
me down the river
in your leaky
I have sailed grand canals
when students marched
carried guns without
bullets, wrote poems
on planks of wood
And the beautiful young girl?
“Slugged shots of whiskey, tasted dry kisses
felt sharp teeth pierce my tongue.”
While strangers waited at the entrance
to your golden shore.
“I remember a beautiful boy with dark eyes
and black hair. He spotted me smoking
behind the tiny cinema on rue michel.”
“Gitanes,” I said. “Were you smoking
“Gauloises” more likely,” she said.
“I let him fuck me against the wall.
I told him I loved him in French.
My accent merged with his.
I didn’t change anything
for a week. No, I’m
lying, three days.”
She laughed bringing it all back lifting
her spirits off the mountain above
the sea a mile from her cottage
once a retreat.
Turning my own memories over and over
again like a brown postcard with faded
ink, I cannot recall one as luminous
as those of a stranger.
a body is a body on a photograph
A yellow swash of paint on the doorjamb.
A key attached to a sterling silver chain lost
on a trip abroad found three years later inside
a suitcase saved from getting lost on another trip
with a lover, lost now, instead.
A blue pillowcase with one or two dark stains could be
but are not dried tears. A nappy threadbare hand towel
with fading crocheted pink roses as hard as bristles
scratch the face.
A photograph of four strangers all dead.
A photograph inside a cracked glass frame
two thin women smile against a sterling blue
sea, corduroy blazers, brown clogs, two scarves
turtlenecks, pink lips, dark hair blowing away from
their cold faces.
A brown wedding photograph with the date—1944
etched below swirls of yellow satin.
A Bride. A Groom. Both dead.
A photograph with a date in the corner 1972
A photograph with a date in the corner 1984
A photograph with a date in the corner 1995
A photograph forgotten between the pages
of a novel; the oversize glasses, wide lapels
padded shoulders, circa 1982.
A photograph lying flat on a shelf, the boy 2-years old
4, 7, 9 fishing in Hawaii with his father. His father also
sucked his thumb until the age of 9 lying on top of a
A guest, a lover, friend stand at the mantle and politely ask,
“Who are these dead people inside the brown frame
holding the family together?”
“Mother, Father, three aunts, three uncles, one cousin
and a young husband still flushed from his recent honeymoon.”
I move the dust along from one photograph to the other without
noticing almost sixty years has passed.
About Cooper Sy
Cooper Sy is a writer, makes films, and draws cartoons. She moved to Los Angeles in 1984 with her small son to attend the American Film Institute as a Directing Fellow. When she arrived in Hollywood, the door to her 1973 Dodge Swinger fell off. She soon learned that one’s car determines your cache in southern California. Nevertheless, standing on top of the AFI’s terrace at magic hour overlooking the lights of Hollywood, she thought she had died and gone to heaven. Hopeful, ecstatic, and certain she was close to becoming famous, she surrendered to everything that had to do with making movies. Thanks to the talented and generous people she’s worked with her soul and creativity are still intact. She’s finishing two novels — #1 about academia, and #2 a murder mystery set in the strange and edgy town of San Pedro, CA.