Tuesday, January 20, 2009

cuddle and coo

I'm haaaaving a parrrty, and all the gals will be there. They're so pretty I could just pinch them and so fine I think I will.

Governor's playing the piano, pressing hard on the keys with fingers that look like clothes pins that have been left out in the rain. He does it purposefully. It's like he's trying to make a very urgent point, trying to bully the rent out of a lodger who won't pay, or letting loose on a stranger who cut in line at the DMV.

The good ole–hey!–days. Yeah, so good–hey!–so, so gay. But not in that waaaaay!

He's been at this for years, crooning and crying about how smooth the waters were back when.

My girl, what's your name? Mine's Gov. My girls, all of yous. Come to me and let's hug.

Balancing on his bruise-colored, crumpled head is triangular sailor's cap from a previous life. Bubbles gather in the corners of his mouth; between phrasing, he licks them away. He seems to almost relish the action, like he's swiping up the remnants of prosciutto crudo he tasted back when the old world was still considered new and he had to dodge a narrow margin of pitch black moustache above his lips, lest the bristles scrape him and interrupt the tenderness of his tongue, the sweetness of his song.

Your mothers, do they know you're all the same, as soft outside as in? Slightly round, but that's ok. Better that way or so they say and who am I to neigh? So lovely, so lovely, yes so lovely.
You'd expect the sound to fill the room and leak out onto the street, but it doesn't. Governor's eardrums are like a baby's soft spot, so he plays not like the firing of many rifles, but like Taps played mournfully above the arced roof of a deaf man's casket at the dead of night.

Who taught you to pronounce such words, so gentle yet so rough? Who taught you to speak those words, so hard and smooth? I wish to dream I had dish soap. Extra strength, industrial. But not always. Sometimes gentle foaming and anti-bacterial would do the job. Oh Ginger and Alison and Sister Rita. Nice and sparkly clean, let's caress and coo.

Governor's legs, warped and knotted thanks all those years of sea spray, smack down the pedals. The sound it makes is louder than any noticeable resonance of notes. His neighbors use the handle of a broom to hint at him to stop, but he never feels it, never notices, even though it throws him off time.

I've loved so many and liked so few.

The audience is captivated. On the floral settee is Governor's pet monkey, Herc. He'd been smuggled from hostage-held coast and is now pulling the stuffing out of the heirloom settee and putting it in its own ear. There's a turtle whose left paw was flattened by Governor's mountain bike tire. And his family is there, all watching. Not in person, but stuck to gelatin prints that are hung spasmodically in un-varnished frames on every grain of papered wall. His whole dour lineage watches on, saying nothing, holding their breaths. Embarrassed but proud, the way all families are for the ones who come after.

I'm 'unfit to live', or so the report says. 'A danger to myself and everyone.' I guess it's official. But I'd hold you under the moonlight and cut your hair anyway you choose. Braid it, plait it. I'd pay the bills and turn my my head away when I cough.

China bone plates are placed strategically around the room. Governor takes periodic breaks from his performance to lick up stuck-on bits of squid in a hardened, lurid plum sauce. His place is so seedy that flowers could spring from it. That's to say, it would gross you out, but you'd love it, the way a sister loves her baby brother and dotes over him, even though he's red-faced from balling and his diaper is heavy with stink.

It's in the papers, too, 'crazy as a loon'. I guess it's true. But think: Paper can start on fire and burn like a rash to ash. Then nada. Love, love you do, like Spaniards love empanada. Our love's a meal and I'm ready to eat. Man I'm hungry. Ah-ah-ah.

Birds are on the ledge, several different kinds. They come and go, taking turns staring in. Their wings sound like polite, tempered applause. They sing. Governor hears them singing. They're clamoring for more, for verse and chorus, more piano, more voice in good time. They want more, he's sure of it. More! In minor key, now, for the sunken-chested ones, with beaks hung low, feathers a bit frayed. He loves them all. He raises his voice, booms the best he can.

Love of life be damned. May the fault lines fault. May the end come. Let's raise the sail and sail off into it. Rise up, rise it high!

Down the clothespin fingers go again, jabbing harder than ever at the keys, really clobbering them. Thudthud go the pedals, bullied by the heavy feet plugged onto the driftwood legs.

Life's a vortex, I can't get no hubbahubba, not no more. I just drink my fill and cackle. Tomorrow I'll be gone, rotten drunk and sunken, a treasure you never knew, Carol and Caroline and Claudette and Katherine and Catherine and Katheryn, too. Oh. But who knew you.

The birds are starting to get antsy. They're hungry for the stale bread Governor feeds them each day at this time, even though he can't remember from one day to the next, so each feeding time's a novel idea. Lunch has come and lunch gone again. There were no worms. Or maybe the birds have just gotten too lazy to hunt the lawns for them. Their radars have shorted out and gotten fat of function and form. He's made them this way, so they stare, begging. He sings. Him, their only hope, the same way they are his.

Oh, when all is said and all is done, in celebration or chagrin, all there is are my loves and maladies and melodious melodies, endless as the sea, and just as choppy.

No comments: