The following is poem number 18 of 2009’s NaPoWriMo – 30 poems in 30 days during the month of April. The original prompt was, “happy hour” It started off with a cup of coffee but soon the woman in pearls took over.
WOMAN WEARING PEARLS
She steps into Schott’s to see if I’ll break a hundred
dollar bill so her husband can pay for parking. I fix her
a coffee then she asks for a whisky neat, starts to tell me
about her daughter the artist
who’s wasting her life in this town – no offense,
but she’s got an MFA, could do something else.
It’s not like she’s young. Pushing 30 now,
still with that clown who welds bike frames for a living.
I ask if she’d like something to wash the whisky down.
She orders another, then a third when her husband
walks in from the car, rolls his eyes because he’s had
this dream before.
She tells the old fish to drink, quiet down, then veers
to the free-play juke, lines up an hour of songs. Her skirt
rumpled in the back, she dances alone
amongst the hardwood dust.
It isn’t hard to imagine her younger, floating around bars
like this, giving men a taste but never a bite until one night
she decides she’s through with it, buys into another idea -
now here she is getting shined
so she can see her daughter who’ll always be pretty
in an unrefined way, content with the rent-controlled place
down the street because even though we lose things
one-by-one, passion is the last and never comes back.