Poetry by Michelle Askin

Along The Way

Snow falling in a city of grandeur.
Tonight you’re young and falling in love
with the last of the red satin leaves
that swirl the kissing ice sculptures.
You’re in law school and everything is beautiful on the historic orange lit bridge and in beige, oval city scape windows to imagine so many lives— Peruvian jazz dinner parties
or elegant sex with a Persian fortune teller who recites Hafiz in the warm shower. And I am in the wooded shack in the bluish spruce forest.
just wanting to listen to my new wave record player. We will never walk in and out of each other’s lives again. I’ll watch nostalgic reruns, make believe it’s not too late to be the hip stars in Jordache jeans and hairspray. You will remember nothing, only feel the glam baby, the melancholic slowed down synth club mix. Some of us were meant to get lost far off.

Thursday

Sorrow begins with loveliness, the sound of waveforms rotating,
preferably something with barbershop quartet or doo-wop,
like outside my Italian Grandmother’s family restaurant
on a snowy lake, frozen day in Saulte Ste. Marie, Ontario
now embroidered with goth kids combing their blue and black
streaked hair. They are wanting to bum a few bucks off
for a whole pepperoni and to tell me what loneliness is,
though they all hold hands, French kiss, and magic marker
drug score plans on one another’s metal core t-shirts of bands,
who’ve been out of the limelight for seventeen years.
But my loneliness was always there, even in my youth,
and never embraced by some misfit irony, well except
for maybe I remember at least a few. The second was almost
too heart wrenching to recall fully. The first was in middle school
by some neon, glam girl, who insisted on being called D’arcy,
like the bass player, as she painted our nails black and named the pig
we were dissecting for bio, Siamese Dream, an offering to her god,
Billy Corgan, with a Hail Mary thrown in for good luck
and to make all the guts and mechanical penciled in data charts
more ceremonial. All the more a distraction from going home
to our quiet rooms while news blared from our parents’ kitchens
the same old, same old threat of women and homosexuals
in the military or wars in countries we’d only understand
for their red stone village beauty and crushable boys in faded,
dated Guess Jeans with even more out of fashion, Do you discotechue?
boom box lingo. Then there were the many breads his family rolls
from dawn to dusk for market— another world, the photos
from our textbooks, like the song from a distant ice cream truck,
not the ringing bell that time but strings from some sort of golden age
of Hollywood score. Our Vietnamese neighbors slowly comforted
the girl who rode the special ed bus, and who some called fatso,
dumbo when mocked for buying two Bubble O’ Bills.
They didn’t know yet one was for me because she was sad
that I never came out to skate or bicycle with the other kids,
and thought I’d think the pink bubble gum nose was funny.
And when she was explaining herself tenderly to my open window,
they gathered in their bowl-haircut and scrunchie pony tail
adolescent brutality: Come on out; come on out. Come on out
and be friends with the weird girl. I didn’t move from the blinds.
The Vietnamese man and woman not knowing now what to do,
quietly offered her a pink carnation from their lawn garden
and praised the Shubert piece by humming with the cello
as I didn’t let her in but listened with fearful devotion
to that cold truck’s radio, where there sorrow also began.

Early Evening

But then the want to live also pushed hard through you,
and you began to shout it in a grocery store. You were like
the mentally challenged man escaped from an institution,
who when the soup-stocker boy asked to help, begged,
Make me electric. I want to be electric. And it was the most
gorgeous moment of their lives— how the tile’s smashed apples
became beautified by yellow fluorescent lights and a young girl’s
Keds radiated her new story. All night she rode in a camper van on 29,
waking to dawn’s glow of tan legs, men’s bare toes kicking
a torn volleyball by a roadside’s Mexican diner. This was in some
poor Carolina farm town, that is, her first noticing how golden a body
could be and move. Her first wish to the moon. And now your moon
arrives with the rain, this hazy dusk. Everything seeming so lush
and drinkable in this damp Charlottesville, Va parking lot:
the wet lettuce in your bag, engine smoke of the same mountain bus
you came here by after that awful year, and not the poem, but that feeling
from the poem you are wanting to grow inside you. Trying to begin or end:
In a white blossom tree oak, I carved my home by a red brick house,
not knowing someone who used to love me lived there. Not knowing
I would wait out storms asleep in a car, that the want to live
always came from that dream of again being taken in.

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About Michelle Askin

Michelle Askin’s poetry has appeared in Oranges & Sardine, 2River View, PANK, MayDay Magazine, 1947, and elsewhere.