Monica Wendel, [I fall asleep drunk and dream of Lee Harvey Oswald]
This week, three poems by Monica Wendel–including one featuring Rick Santorum.
[The houses off the Palisades Parkway are large and white]
The houses off the Palisades Parkway are large and white
as birthday cakes. Rick Santorum mourns the lost
ghost ship of his child, its body returned to outside air,
the air of the living, air of his ambition. He has lost
and now all women must pay for this death.
It is our wombs that harbored and then rejected life.
I hear his voice on the radio when I’m driving,
looking at those fucking houses, their monstrous
footprints. Even as far north as here the Hudson
is not a river river moving from St. Lawrence to
New York Bay but is a tidal river that moves in,
and out, and in again, in accordance with the moon.
Sweater-vest Santorum knows he’ll never win
my state, but grief continues to propel him forwards.
Every drug-store condom is a reminder to him
of the child that never was; the government
ought to take those things away. Child. Child. House.
Dead child. Its weight in his arms. Its weight
in his children’s arms. The voices of the dead
sailing past me on the river. The river that I
have not stepped in yet. A grief I refuse to enter.
I am sleeping on a yoga mat in someone else’s pajamas
A Christmas tree in the courtyard below turns the bedroom walls pink. The lamp on the ceiling is a cloud. In the dream there is a book of sonnets in my hands, with a cover of thick leather. You gave it to me. We are drinking in the dark and staying sober. You sit down and I stand and your ex-girlfriend, the one who I’ve never met, appears. Neither of us knows what we are supposed to know about the other, but she is kind. A cat runs across the room, chasing a dark mouse. When I wake up, a trapeze artist is wrapped up next to me in a white comforter, sitting up, her face as pointed and bright as a Hershey’s kiss. Outside a gypsy cab honks, looking for passengers.
[I fall asleep drunk and dream of Lee Harvey Oswald]
I fall asleep drunk and dream of Lee Harvey Oswald –
in the dream, I’m his wife, the one he beats,
and we have a baby who knows how to open doors.
He’s not faithful. He has sex with a schoolteacher on the front seats
of our car, and when she gets out, it’s raining. The rain
is a sheet over the front steps, puddles on the walkway,
but something pink or red floats on top. Petals?
He’s going to kill her and I wake up. When I remember the dream
I wonder if someone I’m having sex with is going to kill me.
I remember sitting at the window in the apartment in Baltimore
icing my wrist and face and how guilty it felt,
that I hadn’t made it work. The summer of cicadas.
Their bodies three deep. I can’t tell if I’m still that woman.
I can’t tell if it’s going to happen again.
MONICA WENDEL is the author of the chapbook Call it a Window (Midwest Writing Center, 2012). A graduate of NYU’s MFA program, she teaches English at St. Thomas Aquinas College.