The Woman in the Mint Green Skirt
By Mitchell Untch
…that of one mind imagining into another…(Keats)
for Bella Mahaya Carter
Words form inside the woman
who wears it, wrapping around her hips
kissing the framework of her bones.
Today's mantra: arrive at something from nothing.
So I imagine, from her long grey streaks of hair,
that she's in her fifties,
a sort of Rapunzel from my playbook of words,
who can't afford a good hairdresser
or a even a two-story from which her
long tresses could fall, undulate like dying swans,
everything she has ever thought of saying
gathering in the dark suburb of her mouth.
Maybe she'll write about her family,
her children, the husband she loves,
don't ask me how I know this--where they met, a bus stop,
him with a pack of Marlboro's, lighting her cigarette
the way Paul Henreid lit Bette Davis's
cigarette in Now, Voyager,
the delicate flame from his lighter burnishing her eyes,
the red tips flurry, how his hands moved gently toward
her as though he were offering a part of himself
he never wanted back, and her taking it,
already succumbing from the inside out,
afterward, the long, grey drag of indefinable silence.
Maybe she'll write about the way her husband
first offered his mouth, the taste of himself,
the unstudied language of his body
cut from the dark into the night air,
the hotel room, the window, the evening's thinly sliced stars.
I look around. A light bulb becomes a kind of a heart,
everything, its own super nova.
Curtains flutter like angel wings.
Finish the last line your on, the instructor says.
I wonder what words would do if they didn't have mouths?
Whether the hand is the right instrument?
And although I try to prevent listening
to the crows outside argue in the streets,
I can't help but imagine a marital disagreement
unsettled in the branches,
rattled with accusations of midnight infidelities,
like the arguments I have with myself
when I suspect I'm already in too deep
to remember what we had before,
which makes me wonder
if you heard me last night, if you saw
my mouth moving behind your back.
I can't say, but the piano in the living room plays every note.
I switch the lamp off. You bring in two beers.
I hear the slow bending of flip tops,
the flicker of tin, like fins in a shallow stream.
Your hand un-layers me.
The television remote slides between the sofa cushions.
Even on mute, lips lie.
The woman with the mint skirt gets up.
Seams border her legs like loudspeakers,
nylons scissor toward the bathroom door. Click.