|©2013 JoAnn Verburg|
She likes the fact that he can’t find the car
on the lot or remember the price.
He’s dejected, has had all the hopes
driven out of him. She likes that in a man.
He grew up looking for birds,
he tells her, can identify them now
just by the silhouette. In the morning,
he scouts out where the owls
will be, goes home for a cup of coffee,
then comes back later to find them.
He doesn’t wear a ring.
She imagines taking him with her
to concerts at the Fine Arts Center,
would like to come in on his arm, surprise
her colleagues with her taste in men.
She would like to taste this man,
if only once, sit with him in a bar
drinking beers and laughing
at the Ford Corporation. She would like
to get drunk and dance with him
to the amateur band playing songs
of the seventies, or stay cool and sober
as a chalked cue, and win game after game
of pool, the men’s quarters lined up
on the polished edge of the table.
After work, she’d sit beside him in his truck
and loosen his tie, loosen his laugh.
Sitting in his makeshift office, she feels
his depression, like the black hair that creeps
out of the neck of his shirt. She feels
the sadness of everything he’s never dared
to want, doling out cars to those who can afford them
and those who can’t. Now he’s telling his wife
on the phone, “No, I don’t want to, but I will,”
then making a note of that errand
he plans to forget. He’s hearing the pull
of the tides on Cape Cod. “When I came here
in 1969, people couldn’t understand
what I was saying. It was like I was talking
another language.” He’s still talking
his own language, the man who needs
to sell cars-- “Just give me one more chance,”
he asks her on the phone--and whose heart
trails after birds. Sometimes it’s so beautiful
what he sees when he’s out in the woods,
he says, he feels inspired.
He thinks how he would write it down.
Then when he gets home, it’s gone. Flown
like some bird he can’t identify, flown
like something in his life he’s been trying
to get a glimpse of, something he was sure
he’d recognize immediately, if he saw it,
just from the silhouette.
--Jane Hilberry, from Body Painting.