By April Bernard
When in a farmhouse kitchen that smelled
of old rinds and wet cigarette butts
I hoisted the shotgun to my shoulder
and aimed but did not fire it at the man
who had just taken my virginity like a snack,
with my collusion, but still —
When I sat in a conference room
in an inquisition
at the "newspaper of record,"
across from the one slurping his pipe,
the one arching her eyebrow,
and I felt the heat like a wet brand in my chest,
repaid insult for insult and left their fancy job
like a squashed bug on the floor —
When I was twelve, too old, the last time my father
spanked me, pants down,
because I had "distressed" my mother
and my vision went red-black and
I did not forgive —
When, during my travels along the Gulf Coast,
the intruder returned in the night
and I did not call the cops again but stood
with a butcher knife facing the door, yelling, "Come in!"
although this time it was just the wind flapping
and banging the screen door —
When across a skating-rink-sized glistening table
I told the committee chair and her brooch I was a fan of Marx
and lost the fellowship —
When I threw a pot of hot coffee
and it just missed a man’s head, and the black-brown spatter stains
were still there four years later long after he’d left me
when I finally moved out of that East Village hole —
I would have had to be thinking
in order to have thought — loaded, not loaded?
— and I was not thinking, I was only dripping hot
and oh the pleasure, I can still feel its prickling,
crackle over the furnace of my rage,
to see his face go pale, his eyes widen,
his "put it down, put it down" — and I
put it down and allowed my life as well as his
to go on.
I miss my anger. Decades go by
when all I can muster is absent-minded invective,
you know, directed at the news;
or a brief fantasy
of shoving someone in front of a bus. Yesterday
I slammed my fist on my desk
and then apologized, to the desk.
Consider the tapestry of the seven deadly sins, at Saint-Denis:
Anger, wild-haired and half-dressed,
picked out in blue and silver thread bunched
against the crimson,
rough against the fingertips, she
rides a black boar dappled with blood
and waves her double-headed axe —
Yes, I remember her.
I always lie when I always say
I didn't know the gun was loaded.
I had a boring morning of chores, but Cheryl was driving home from New York and came here at lunchtime so we could watch some episodes of The Crown, then go see Doctor Strange with Paul (and Madeline, though she had to leave halfway through to go work in concessions at the theater). For a variety of reasons I wasn't sure I'd really like it, but apart from being mystified why they cast Tilda Swinton -- she was compelling as always, but Lucy Liu or Maggie Q would have been as well -- and feeling that final confrontation was a bit too cartoony even for a comic book movie, I loved it far more than I was expecting, even Cumberbatch whom I don't always enjoy.
We went to the mall food court for dinner after the movie, then Cheryl had to go home though poor Maddy (who baked cookies for her co-workers) had to work another few hours. Paul and I watched The Flash, then the awesome end of the Maryland-Georgetown game during which Maryland came back from a seven point deficit during the last minute of the game, then we started to catch up on Madam Secretary but after pausing it to get Maddy, On Demand tried to make us start over instead of remembering where we were, so rather than watch 3/4 of it again we caught up on Elementary instead. Not great fall phone photos from Meadowside Nature Center over the weekend: