Wednesday, June 20, 2007

on fifth

They exited the club and he stood in the rain under a tree that had just begun to blossom. The leaves were nascent yet and didn’t provide the shelter he would have liked, but he was too tired to move. And anyways he thought there was something cool about just standing in the rain while others unfurled umbrellas and pulled leather jackets over their heads and crowded beneath the wide awning of a dry cleaners. Everyone was smoking and they looked very rock ‘n’ roll in their fifty dollar t shirts and angular haircuts and futuristic sneakers. A thin young woman in a housedress walked toward him, and then past, on her way to hail a cab, or more likely a black car, it being so far out and this hour. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen a housedress, and then immediately he could. R. had bought one, of gray and pink checks with a zipper right up the middle. In the house in Maine. An erotic garment, he’d believed, though until the passage of the girl it had disappeared entirely from his memory. It had been the time when the blueberries were in season and they were practically giving them away in the farmers market on the commons. When he felt he could enjoy the sensuality of a blueberry as something pure, requiring neither adornment nor distraction on the back steps, with the yard finally coming back to life. It seemed impossible to him that he could have been with a girl in a housedress, probably the same age as this girl still standing with imploring raised hand on the wet street. R. with an apron over her housedress when she worked at the Yellow Cup and he’d wait at the picnic table outside, wait to buy vanilla ice cream for the blueberries and then home to count her tips on the kitchen table. The memory of awaiting a waitress was as improbable as the housedress, though it had come back to him many times before and he’d even written of it. In this fashion all that was strange and good in his past had been spoiled.

Only through an accidental trigger could he snatch some joy of his past, some midlife surprise like the housedress and the time she’d let him unbutton it and press her down with her head against the futon, the gray and pink ebbing against the contours of her flesh, an image he knew he would now replay for days. In its first moment, with its startle still fresh, he was heartened. He had thought all those particular bones were long picked clean.

He turned and walked into the street, subconsciously flashing the gold band on his finger as he waved to the girl.

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