Jane Miller



Lisa once told me she was a jaguar, black spots inside black circles on a tawny coat. Did people know—

I ask myself while practicing lying on my back and throwing my legs over my head, arms raised and my index finger last, as Lisa taught me to go down the rabbit hole, pointing toward the heavens—

that you are the reason, my darling pig, and not my sorry cotton-tailed ass self, that our gay husbands divorced us? All along, I thought I must be the reason, lonely, resting, not cooking, just drinking and puking, going to bed early, asking the guests to leave, nearly letting my favorite, o but what was her name? of their dogs drown, playing the piano without distinction, sobbing over nothing, screaming My Father Is Dead, so Brien could scream My Father Shot Himself in His Kitchen And I Had To Fly to My Parish To Clean the Blood Of His Brains Off the Wall, all the while thinking, they hate me, I am a fake poet, I am a fake Jew, I am a fake lesbian, I am a fake teacher, I am a poor swimmer and a worse cook, I cannot drink for shit without puking, I came to Champagne late in life, I drove too slowly on our vacations together through Italy, I swam naked with them even though I was fifty, how terrible that must be for gay men, and also, and perhaps most evidently, I did not try to find out why; I let you write the postcards and call them and beg.

Our husbands, a lion and a lamb, dine and drink and swim with us with a family of Chihuahuas—Laverne and, o my god, what was my favorite’s name? This is how terrible life is, for the moment, for eternity, to forget one’s beloved’s name, whom I held in my arms. While you and our husbands cook and drink in our kitchen, night after night, hold her in my arms until she trusts me, which is all love is. We play games, although the gentle lamb always wins.

Each picks a card with a name on it and holds it to his or her forehead so everyone else can see who’s there. We play rounds and rounds. We pour rounds and rounds. I lose. You lose. Brien loses.

When our husbands call me at the Houston Hilton after their late dinner on Kauai, the friendly lion roars his revelation over the phone and the ocean. They saw you kissing a girl in your car, and not kissing me in our house, the chilled cocktail that freezes my brain and heart.  Now they are calling me on it, and about it. And I am an asshole, like the circle at the end of the barrel of a gun

with which Brien’s father blew his brains out onto the kitchen wall in a house in a parish that flooded so that none of this any longer exists:

Brien’s dead mother stood trial for serving liquor to minors already on prescription drugs, one of whom nearly died, and you accompanied him to St. Bernard Parish, as his wife (in everything but name and act), and the courtroom was hot and humid, and the trial lasted all day, and she was acquitted because she said, to no one in particular, that her husband blew his brains out, and then you drank straight whiskey out of paper cups. I’ve always been meaning to ask—even though this is exactly the sort of question, unaccompanied by segue, that you detest enough to leave me—during some humid, endless day, do you ever think about being someone else rather than being with someone else?


via Kauai, around midnight / St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

© 2008 Electronic Poetry Review