Excerpt from ďTwo Bodies BreathingĒ
Over bagels and decaf at Brown Bag Deli, Myra wants to know what brought me to America. She pauses her coffee stirrer, looks me square on, and tells me she canít imagine leaving England, leaving family, to live in Pittsburgh: ďYou married, kid?Ē Twelve days on the job, I donít know Myra well enough to talk freely about myself. We track sales contracts for a lab equipment manufacturer: beakers, hotplates, unbreakable thermometers. Iím much better talking shop. This monthís top seller is a sturdy micro-centrifuge, great for spinning blood into its raw constituents. I want to say Iím learning how to be unmarried, how to live alone in America. Secretly, I think the heart is a centrifuge flinging out whatever cannot settle in its muscle. I nick the lip of my Styrofoam cup. ďWeíre separated,Ē I say. I feel as if Iíve lied.
Calling Out the Days
This morning the moonís still there
having rain or sun or more of that gray
cold but isnít and I think of Stephen
and how when I first came to America
all those animated clouds scudding over Illinois
the way Iíve known women at work
lottery tickets, and heíd be calling out the days
and 85 on Friday, and how a week of sun
like putting in a quarter and walking off with
thereís some joy in prediction that I donít understand,
whatís coming up, which is maybe why I canít go
or why my friend whose protease inhibitor might quit
not the living in his body. Breathe all you can, he tells me.
where skywalks warm pedestrians for miles in circulated air
before they settle Pittsburgh, and how the shadow
it makes at thirty and what does it matter
at the South Bend Howard Johnsonís
The rooms were the same room decorated differently.
at 6 a.m., there was the moon a bit thinner than before
Gist Street Reading Series