by Ann Cefola
— After A Touch of Mink (Universal Studios, 1962)
She honeyed blonde, he steel brunette.
Not Doris Day. Not Cary Grant. Parents—mine—who observe those
spar god-like onscreen. Breathy amplification—whisper and scratch,
outsized, bursts like sparklers. At five, I am
animal, another species. Mouths move. Unseen
orchestral track. Doris Day with spots
on her face. Cary Grant touches his cufflinks.
Never again will they be this beautiful and at ease.
The two next to me.
If I turn back, the projector clickety click in a square
beams gold across the movie cavern. Particles emit stars—
vibrato voices like snow, luxuriant white intuited upon waking. Inside the box
an arm adjusts the sparkling vapor over velour seats, curtains, lips.
Doris Day. She will do it this time. Laughter like confetti. This thing
between men and women—photoplay. You be the mother. I’ll be
the father. Roles, roses, a rose without the why.
Blue glint across a pair I adore.
My mother in pink shift and white cardigan, my father in open shirt
and blazer, snug in theater’s ruby red.
Cary Grant will do the right thing and get married—
Honeymoon spots on his face. Titters rise like fireflies.
Before lights return, happiness carried from lobby to bright air as if
the camera tracks them too—hand on her back—before they close
separate doors at night, lost in the too-quiet that will unspool, and I will
feel every wall for a window, a glistening path, a way to roll back to
the wingèd Dodge, where my father pushes the button drive,
my mother beside on plaid bench, both fresh with joy, a rose
aroma, dewy, unfolding, I inhale. Hold it…hold it…there.