Her soul drifts across the continent.
She keeps returning to the hills above Hollywood
The famous addict who once made love to her,
After watching her first with another woman.
She is remembering the night he mocked her
For crying out his name
I was your own private whore.
Still damp from the shower, still almost
Naked, but not yet of guile,
He is telling the love-sick woman what he guesses
She needs to hear,
Things are bad, how can he not leave?
But as a rose turns and closes
The next morning he thinks he overhears the hotel staff moan
His name—name in the night she repeated so passionately—with derision.
In the running ink of the rain-soaked newspaper,
She glimpses the forecast: rain.
My life was difficult for lots of reasons
Before I was an actress I worked at the trendy New York hotel,
He kept trying to get me up to his room—this was before
I really met him—
But I always said no.
Even though she tells him it makes her feel coarse,
She amuses him with stories of her ancient lovers.
You will never get over this being an actress, he says.
The scratched disc stuck on love you love you love
She phones his machine, demanding no more calls,
Forgive me, I can’t talk to you, talking
To you makes me phone other people, one in particular, to ask
Him to stop calling too, and this must stop.
Like a singer who ghosts his own voice for the live show
There were always three of us in bed
Him, whatever girl he really wanted, and me
I wondered, she says, how God would remake me.
Now I know.
Robert Polito recently edited The Selected
Poems of Kenneth Fearing (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1983)
for the Library of America. He directs the Graduate Writing Program
at The New School in New York City. (10/2003)