Sunday, July 10, 2011

Step Right Up

…with lines from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “I Am Waiting”

The heart like a defunct roller coaster, rusted and overgrown with vines, beats, still, but with no visible car to take her through or up or down, even if she wanted to ride, even if she had a ticket to ride, she is sad, but relieved, too, to know that the thrill is gone, or was horded away, or maybe will be replaced some day by… what?  

Bumper cars?  Too passive aggressive.  Ferris wheel?  Too predictable.  Tilt-a-Whirl?  She has no stomach for that.  The arcade with its flashing lights and incessant chimes, its winners and losers?  Too competitive.

She takes her last coin and slips it into the slot.  She presses the small red button and the glass case fills with light and to life comes the Fortune Teller, thick black hair pulled away from her face and tucked under a colorful scarf, silver earrings that dangling touch her shoulders, eye shadow the color of a robin’s egg, and mascara applied thick and black.  She calls herself Madame Amore but tells the women with the heart like a defunct roller coaster not to speak her name; she knows it.  The woman gives her a questioning, and-that-would-be stare but the Fortune Teller remains silent.  Yeah sure, the woman thinks to herself, but stays and waits for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn / to catch each other up at last / and embrace – or something like that.

Fun house.

That’s all the Fortune Teller says, and then the case goes black and Madame Amore returns to her former, frozen self: vacant eyes and a face with the expression of restrained bemusement.

Fun.  House.  The woman makes her way.  It’s not far.  She enters.  It’s not fun.  In the middle of a room with no windows one large mirror shows the woman to herself, twisted and deformed, more wide than tall, but with a neck like Alice after the second drink.

I need a drink, she thinks and turns to leave, but there is no way out.  She has made her choice.  Or the choice was made for her: reflection; the eternal self gaze.

                                                 This piece appears in the latest issue of the print journal Sou'wester.