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   a    p o e m    w r i t t e n    o n    v e n e t i a n    b l i n d s,    s l a t s    f a c i n g    i n s i d e    (t h e    h i l t o n    g a r d e n    i n n    o n    e a s t    v i r g i n    c o u r t    i n    t u l s a)

--- D E N I S E   D U H A M E L

OK, so at first the metaphor was lost on me:  that each slat

parted to let in more light. Each time I slit

my fingertip on an envelope, each time I lost a nickel to a slot

machine, I blamed someone else—the slut

who seduced my husband, her perfume like the sleet

that blinded our windshield before the last

exit to Stillwater, so that our Toyota lost

control and landed on the median. I made a list

of how I’d been wronged. My lust

grew for what I thought I deserved: the very least

of which was unquestionable adoration and fairy tale

endings. I wrote a suicide note with Scrabble tiles

then sped through each Route 66 booth, refusing to pay tolls

on my way to the Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa,

where I'd always gone for sanctuary and where, my father tells

me, I was conceived. After the double feature, my car stalls—

well not exactly my car, but the one I stole

from her. I changed the plates, telling myself I didn't want to be traced from Still-

water, but it would have been nice if someone had followed. I salute

each mosquito, then climb in the back seat. The Man of Steel

flies through my dreams—my unconscious, a slate

upon which I direct my own Hollywood desires. Sloth

tempers my melodrama until each and every slight

seems like too much effort to fight. An Oklahoman sleuth

taps on the car window at dawn. His whistle sounds like a sleigh

bell. An elderly guard, his moustache like clock hands, halts

my sleep, but jump starts my battery. He points me to hotels

down the road. I stop at 7-11 for a toothbrush, then register at the Hilton

and pay with cash. A clerk lets me check in early, the hustle

of vacuum cleaners in the surrounding rooms soothing on the heels

of my own life as a housewife. Kids next door are playing Slay

on their Pocket PCs. I recognize the Medieval pings. I'm a sleuth

too—always sniffing for clues for any sleight

of heart. Could I be having second thoughts? Or is sloth

holding me back? One bottle of pills could wipe my slate

clean. Why did I slip that 7-11 toothbrush in my pocket? Why did I steal

the other woman's car? Do I want to be caught, salute

an officer, then hold out my wrists for handcuffs, still

expecting my husband to come bail me out? Her mink stole

had shed on him and made me wheeze. Yet I stall

in front of the antidepressants. I call a psychic who tells

me a new love is waiting for me in Tulsa.

A love whose favorite color is orange. A love who toils

under the sun, working construction, fitting tiles

on roofs. A love with such a sunny disposition, all the dogs' tails

in the neighborhood wag when he arrives. She says to at least

wait until the moon is in Leo, when lust

will fill his heart, before I am convinced all hope is lost.

Until then, she says I should make a list

of all the things that make me happy: my last

juicy cheeseburger. The way tree branches covered in sleet

look like bracelets. My favorite V-neck sweater and slut-

red lipstick. Letters with good news slipped through my mail slot.

My Gucci wraparound sunglasses. My skirt slit.

The stripes of light that shine through each slat.

© crossconnect, inc 1995-2006 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania's kelly writers house |