by Peter Dreyer (August 2022)
End of the Day, Matthew Wong, 2019
The new moon party’s pretty poet, Emily,
wore weird whatnots in her ears.
But we’re all allowed some vanity
—it helps us to outlive our fears.
I’m not myself the least bit vain
as she’d discover by and by
once we side by side had lain.
Or do I dare to tell a lie?
Sporting a gold ringlet in her nose,
dismissing rhinopharyngitis’ shocks,
she says she might tattoo her toes,
to match her brand-new Birkenstocks:
“Tonight you were such a deal,
honey, meeting me halfway so fast,
conceding, ‘OK, reincarnation’s real
—but it takes place in the past.
‘Our history’s a dirty trick,
this is the beginning, not the end–
that lies beyond the Paleopathic,
when there’s nothing left to mend.’”
The coup, of course, undid the foudre.
As I tiptoed out into that dawn,
how could I not, you see, remember
the ambiguities of her yawn?
Begone my hopeful line of patter,
she’s turned into an old lady now
down by Half Moon Bay; no matter
—I’ll always love her anyhow.
Berkeley, CA, ca. 1977 / Ocracoke Island, NC, 2022
Note: coup de foudre is French for a thunderbolt, or love at first sight.
Peter Richard Dreyer is a South African American writer. He is the author of A Beast in View (London: André Deutsch), The Future of Treason (New York: Ballantine), A Gardener Touched with Genius: The Life of Luther Burbank (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan; rev. ed., Berkeley: University of California Press; new, expanded ed., Santa Rosa, CA: Luther Burbank Home & Gardens), Martyrs and Fanatics: South Africa and Human Destiny (New York: Simon & Schuster; London: Secker & Warburg), and most recently the novel Isacq (Charlottesville, VA: Hardware River Press, 2017).
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The lucky, like this poet, come to their senses, row past the sirens on the rocks, and escape from those who wear “weird whatnots in their ears”. I can remember a handful of them.