They Call Me Lynn


They call me 'hell'
They call me 'Stacey'
They call me 'her'
They call me 'Jane'
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name

~"That's Not My Name," The Ting Tings

Be forewarned, never date a quiet girl. But Terri, she likes the depths, isn't she my dolphin after all? We spend a day at the beach with Tad and Kim, lost in the fog at Point Reyes, consuming wine and weed, while the sand crabs do their shoreline thing, sandpipers dodge waves and feast, pelicans' wings touch the waves, and in the chill of the evening we retreat to the motel room. Tad and Kim drink themselves unconscious, Tad on the floor, Kim on the one double bed. Terri and I shove him to one side and make sweet love. Funny how a shy girl like me can rise to the occasion when Terri pushes my button, then turn into every mother's daughter in the cold light of day, though no mother wants this kind of daughter, but I figure we're all a little wanton given a chance, we all decant ourselves under the right circumstances, and we all have our histories to overcome, and "they fuck you up, your mum and dad," and don't kid yourself, we all fuck, though, when it's gentle, we call it making love, and it is, but there always comes that moment . . . and when your parents frown, remember how you got here, imagine mom and dad in the throes, and when they tell you they didn't, they did, and when you were in seventh grade—how you stared at the bulge in Tommy's pants, or peeked at Becky's bra through the little gap in her white sleeveless peter-panned collared blouse, and we all sneaked peeks at Mrs. Rodin's secret parts when she sat on the desk in front of the whole class. We all do it, even if it's only in our minds, and none of us know what's coming next, or who, or when, or if . . . loneliness isn't for the faint of heart, and don't these four walls close in, driving us into the street, and who can't imagine a night they wouldn't relive? Professor Eliot has us reading Delmore Schwartz: "My heart beating, my blood running, the light brimming, my mind moving, the ground burning, my eyes blinking, the air flowing, the clock's quick ticking, time moving, time dying . . ." and Kerouac's mad lines keep tempo, and Professor Eliot, in his quiet way, is telling us that the dead lines we read are really bits of someone's heart, secrets revealed, passions exposed—sure as sure is sure—but, he cautions, be careful, no one one wants to know YOUR secrets, what they want is THEIR secrets revealed by your WORDS, by the anonymous poet; and does Plath not say it best for the self-absorbed, and does not Frost say it for the woodsman, and Eliot for the academic, and Milton for the spiritual, and Snyder for the hipsters, and Bishop for the likes of me, and Angelou for the sisters, and Baraka for the brothers, and Larkin for the commuter, and the Brownings for the lovers, and Dickinson for the sensitive, and Laozi for the philosophical, and Li Po for those who prefer brevity, and Shakespeare for all of us, and then there's the quiet girl sitting next you trying to say what she feels in a way that you'll understand, so that for one brief moment two hearts beat as one, and this is how it begins: Terri takes me to the football field, we walk to the fifty yard line and lie down and stare into the blue and hold hands, and I begin to form words so I can tell YOU, and, later, when I take her to the pool for a swim competition, it makes me sad that she has a world outside of mine, but when we make love that night she's my sweet dolphin after all, my salty girl—and words begin to form, I can't stop them anymore than I can stop these joyful ripples. Deep breath. Aren't the ordinary days the best days? But the more ordinary the day, the more difficult it becomes to put into words. Easy enough to write about dolphins, what about boredom, or longing? An ordinary day, any day—sixth grade, I have a crush on Ellen. We talk on the phone at night, and I hint, and she uses words . . . I can't even imagine what she means. I couldn't be more bewildered by those words, my parents having neglected to tell me ANYTHING about ANYTHING, and what I know about myself wouldn't fit in a thimble, but when I ask mom about the C word she shoves a bar of Dial soap in my mouth so fast I gag. Sigh. As for the rest, the other, I haven't a clue. I could have used a brother. At least I could have SEEN one, caught a glimpse one way or another, instead of staring at Michelangelo's David, trying to figure out how it fits, and trying equally hard not to stare in the locker room after gym class. Why can't someone explain this to me? Why doesn't my mother sit me down and "have a talk?" Why do the wrong things make me feel funny . . . down there? Things like the glimpse of Becky's bra? I have no VOCABULARY. And you can see how difficult it is to put these ordinary thoughts into words, and why, now, when Professor Eliot has us deciphering Piers Plowman, I'm sneaking peaks at Sappho; and why the words of Rosalia de Castro: "You're in all. Are all. Marooning me in myself," make me sigh. I admire the poets, envy their ability to pare it down to the essence, not something within my c.v., which explains, in toto, ipso facto, why, when I see Terri from across the room for the first time, and she turns her head and looks into my eyes and smiles, I KNOW. Finally, IT ALL MAKES SENSE. I fall hard, and this is the event which is the precursor to the words, and a lot of them. But I've said all this before. Still, it explains a lot, this cross culture of actions and words, concept and reality, action becoming words, words uniting poet and reader. When I FINALLY have Terri stretched out before me, I can simply look and touch, and understand, finally, the mysteries that connect us. It IS her gorgeous body, her unblinking eyes, her ability to give and take that become the poetry, the action becomes the words, and the DIVISION between artist and non-artist, between those who are cognizant of the moment and those who are not, is ABSOLUTE. Which explains the need for the poet, and why the poet cannot stand back, removed, and flinch, and let life pass unregarded, without embracing love and pain as equals, never may they be the cold, objective observer. This is only the beginning, this baby step on the road to bliss. The words are just beginning to form. I understand that my way isn't the only way, not even close, and my words make some shudder. But at least I know, when for so long I didn't. The words, they come, and maybe there is one who shares this secret, and my words are her secret. Still, it's all a mystery. Words can only say so much. I cannot explain why it's Terri and not Tommy. It just is.





revised a bit 9/4/21







Poetry by one trick pony The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 49 times
Written on 2021-09-05 at 02:45

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