Joyce said,
"Everyone's
Gone camping.
I'm not up to
Driving to
Art in the Park
In the Dark
Tomorrow
Evening.
Would you
Take me?"
You grouse,
Grumble,
And gripe-
Secretly
Pleased:
She's never
Asked you to do
Something like
This before,
Even if it's only
Art in the Park
In the Dark.
(Anyway,
Who cares
If you weren't
Invited to join
The Scoobies
In slapping
Mosquitoes?)
So while lifting
One end of
The couch
So she could
Vacuum beneath
You said,
"Maybe."
With just the right
Amount of
Irritated reluctance;
Letting Joyce know
That you too,
Have things
To do.
Still, you
Show up
Saturday night
In the jeans,
Khaki shirt,
And loafers
That you'd
Nicked off some
College kid at
The bus station.
Joyce gives
You a look but
Says nothing
As you open the
SUV door for her
That long-ago
Warm August night.
As you drive
You find yourself
Watching Joyce doze
From the corner
Of your eye;
She looks
Faded around
The edges,
And smells
Wrong-
This bothers you-
Until a tailgater
Starts honking.
You speed up
Tossing him
A two-fingered salute
While taking
The exit
To Art in the Park
In the Dark,
Where you
You carry
Joyce's stuff;
As she laughs,
Sharing jokes and
Confidences with
Her colleagues
And clients,
Trading
Business cards,
Sharing glances
And paper cups
Of cheap
Chardonnay
With housewife artists,
Part-time potters,
And you
While their children
Run giggling
With Glow-Sticks
Through the soft
August darkness
Long past twilight.
Finally Joyce
Sits down
Beside a fountain
Made of old
Catsup bottles:
Too much art,
Too much music,
Too much cheap
Chardonnay.
You leave her there
To load her shit
Into the SUV.
When you return,
She's dozed off,
Despite the
Klesmer Band
Honking away
Nearby-
Her hair loose,
Her face soft,
Smiling.
So you join her,
Lighting up one
After the other
Lounging
On the dried-out
Summer grass;
She on a
Painted throne
Covered with
Bright paint and
Broken mirrors
That will never
Show your face,
Letting her sleep,
Almost,
(But not quite)
Taking her hand
In yours,
Watching
The art lovers,
And part-time
Potters,
Weavers,
And sculptors
Mill past
Until Goth
Belly Dancers,
All blue Mohawks
And tongue studs
Begin gyrating
Nearby.
Joyce murmurs
"Sorry, I've
Been so tired
Lately!"
Fear stabs
Through you
Once more
To be forgotten
In the traffic,
As fairyland
With its dancers,
Painters,
Candles and
Sculptures,
Dwindles
Behind
You.
SUV unloaded,
You linger in
Joyce's doorway,
As she thanks
You for being
So patient,
"I know you
Don't like that
Sort of thing,"
She says,
"But it's good
To get out.
And look!"
Joyce shows you
A little watercolor,
"I may have
A new painter
To promote!"
You shrug,
It's all randomly
Marked paper
To you-
You've got
Things to do,
People to seeā€¦
Still,
You find
Yourself
Leaning
Towards
Buffy's
Mother,
Eyes half-closed,
She smells
Of candle wax,
Oil paint, cheap
Chardonnay-
Fairyland.
With a
Gentle smile.
Joyce slides her
Hand between
Your faces
While putting
The other
On your shoulder,
Firmly steering
You outside, saying
"Thank you,
I had a lovely time."
Leaving you
Alone
In the yellow glare
Of the porch light
With the click
Of the latch,
To take the
Long way home,
Smoking,
And unsettled
In stolen loafers.