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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 2, June 2016
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Bill Gottlieb
Cobb, California, USA


Makeover
San Francisco

She and I walk on the same streets where you and I walked, after eating at the same restaurant, staying at the same hotel. She accepts, appreciates a past of love, of care, love for the dead woman who was my wife, care for the dead woman who was her friend.

Over lunch outside at a café she tells me a story from when she was a teen and buying makeup at Macy’s and the clerks were rude, cruel; she never shopped there again. You loved Macy’s. M-a-a-c-e-e-e-y’s, you’d say in a silly, excited voice, teasingly squealing the e’s, smiling at me, the moneyed one in the dyad, knowing how much I wanted you to have what you wanted, including me, my body, in a king bed in a room with a skyscraping view of the bay, of downtown—of Macy’s!—a chocolate in the city’s rich gift, the box of a weekend wrapped in fun. Last year on your birthday—your last birthday—a kind young gay man at the Brow Bar at Macy’s drew you new eyebrows, yours having vanished along with digestion, energy, clarity, mobility, comfort . . . I have no quality of life! you cried out one morning to your jaunty oncologist before chemo.

I try to tell her the story but I quaver in quiet; I don’t want to weep today, happy to be sitting here, her eyes blue, her hair blonde, her white t-shirt tight. You were drowsy and easy on an anti-nausea drug; you were grateful to be a girl in your favorite department store, your large eyes highlighted as if you were looking forward to seeing more of yourself, of me, of everything on offer. I tell the little tale and she and I cry together. You aren’t here.

on her delicate neck
a new gold chain
frames
a breath
another breath

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