Friday, January 16, 2009

Siren (Poem)

Because I'm feeling lazy and compelled to blog at the same time, I'm giving you an old poem today. I've been sitting on it for a couple of years and this is it's latest iteration. The woman's dialogue should be read fairly quickly, with the hint of Boston accent (at least that's how she speaks it in my head).

And just in case you're wondering: the words in italics aren't hers, so you can drop the accent there.

* * * *

Siren

I only saw her once. As I’d paced the halls of an old folks’ home
trying to digest this business of death, she called from the crosshall—

where other patients slept or stared, heads cocked
against wheelchair frames, saliva fanned across moth-balled sweaters

and soiled linens—her hands lifted, fingers curled upon themselves,
tempting those who could bear her straying eye and rotten smile

to share forgotten bread:
Have you ever had a Greek pastry? Tell you what I’m gonna do.

Next time you’re here, I’m gonna have a Greek pastry for you
and your wife and your little girl there. I’ll order some from North Andover,

from the church there. It should be here in three days. It doesn’t spoil.
Tell you what, she’s a little doll. I think she’ll like the pastry. It’s not sour,

it’s sweet; I think she’ll really like it. How old’s she? Almost two.
She’s kinda small for her age, isn’t she? Tell you what, I’m

gonna get some Greek pastry for you and for her—I’ve got
the pamphlet in my room, in case you don’t believe me.

It’ll take two or three days to get it here from the church in North Andover.
I think you’ll like it. They gave me my Communion there.

I’m Greek, you know.
Tell you what, I’m gonna order some Greek pastry from North Andover. When you

come back—it’ll take two or three days to get it here—stop
by my room—I’ve got the pamphlet there

in case you don’t believe me—and I’ll give you and your wife some,
even a small portion for this little doll. Looks like she likes the bird. Don’t worry.

It won’t bite; it’s in a cage. How old’s she? Almost two.
She’s kinda small for her age isn’t she? Tell you what, I bet it’s hard

to leave her. Is this her first time here? Yeah. We came
to see her great-grandpa.
I bet

that’s hard for her to see him here. Have you
ever had a Greek pastry?