by Merridawn Duckler
My long lost girlfriend came to me during a nap I was not supposed to take.
She smelled like colonial furniture and had shiny brown hair,
slippery as an eel or a magazine page.
She played something quiet, just outside my sight, a flute
as she did when we were best friends in third grade.
Of course in third grade you become best friends
with the whole family. How I loved them! Their normal food,
oak rocking chairs and dull conversation about water skiing.
At dinner we’d roll our eyes at each other, a gesture
of the deepest conviction. I tried to rouse from the forbidden nap
but she took my hand, my brunette Virgil, and led me up the stairs,
the normal stairs of a Christian family, with a girl child
and a son child and a very indeterminate other boy.
At the top stair was her mother, who my mother thought a moron
but who wore Madras shirts, beautifully ironed. And there
she stripped my friend down to a naked iron halter
like an ineffectual birdcage or a misplaced chastity belt
supposed to cure scoliosis. She tugged it like it was a water ski life jacket;
our eyes met in the only look we ever exchanged and I woke up, sun in my face
slick sweat in the folds, my eyelids folded like a book of hours.