Photo: Maija Rothenberg
This is a love note to my writing colleagues, drafted in the car on my way home from my first Bear River Writers' Conference. Many thanks to editors Allison Leigh Peters and Greg Schutz for running it in the 2012 Bear River Review.
Upon Leaving Bear River
by Maija Rothenberg
You don’t know it, but I’ve caught you,
all of you. Stuffed you into a cloth sack,
where you wriggle and chatter,
wine glasses in hand,
flush from your readings.
I captured you whooping and clapping,
pitching forward in your chairs with laughter,
convulsing with pyromaniacal glee
over lines from the podium,
as curiosity and consciousness collide.
You, with your diamond-studded nose
and striped sport shirt
and cleavage and cane,
with your top-knot and moustache
and green eyeshadow and Yiddish accent,
I saw your face when the applause splashed your chest.
I’m taking you home.
Where, on cool evenings when the air begins to move with
can’t won’t shouldn’t say that,
and the most pernicious of all,
not now, maybe later,
when the split between ambition and ability
is a chasm my legs can no longer straddle,
I will dump open the sack and spill onto my studio floor
your generosity and bravery.
I will pour you loose in the house,
you who get it, for whom language is air.
Overflow the living room, crowd into the bedrooms.
Stand in the bathtub with your wine glasses
as if that’s normal.
I’ll set out caviar and toast to keep you talking.
Track sand onto my marble floors with your flip-flops.
Leave dishes in my sink.
Drink all the wine and beer--
I’ll buy more.
In lipsticked voices you’ll stand by the hearth
and tell your stories of biker chicks, fat Fritz,
and boys felling partridges with stones.
Of Roman ruins, ultrasounds,
and Yom Kippur copulations.
You’ll holler, Go for it, and crow and blush
and pump Yea, and startle
with your candor and freshness.
And when the sun rises,
I will cover you with blankets
and tell you to shush.
It’s time for silence,
so I can get back to work.
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