The Open Window on State St.
I think of the Russian woman who stayed in my loft,
sleeping naked on the fire escape with a blur of a man
who’d wandered into the party. She left a star
on my inner left ankle with a needle and a small pot of ink.
That night, we took turns laughing at the last line of coke
between us, how, it looked like the common whiteness of every mug.
I can still see her shrugging from the window of that empty loft,
where we got up games of whiffle ball, led by our roommate,
a drunken dilettante half-studying the law.
Extraordinary women unpack themselves
like dirt around water. She was one woman,
and not a mother or friend to me for more than a day.
But she reminded me of Ama, my old friend,
whose name is an Italian conjugation for love,
a friend who wears her burden with the weight
of St. Augustine’s confessions—
and at night her eyes are up-turned umbrellas in wind.
She lives on the Florida coast, and there is something
wild inside of her that slips out and eats
the blue algae pickling the ocean’s edge.
Ama looks into its infinite faces
with more muscles than winged Samothrace,
still composing her short story, which she believes
will be famous for its silver sands.
It’s in her name to transition
past the collapsed attic of her years,
to slink away from being a walking vagina to men,
unworthy of what still counts of her possibilities,
or a lightning bolt, or whatever else the world
tells a woman we must be. Our mothers say
with no sense of their irony:
You have to be your own cheerleader.
And that’s the worst part: to jump in one place
breaking the same patch of dirt, over and over.
But there was that Russian woman
who visited me on State St., how she climbed
onto that fire escape, straddling it, brown legs
hanging one on and one off, a lampshade
gathering all the light,
then diffusing it to the earth below.
About the writer:
Most recently, Laura Minor’s poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Burrow Press – Fantastic Floridas, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Berfrois, Hobart, Spring Gun Press, and elsewhere. She earned an MFA in poetry from the Sarah Lawrence College and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in poetry at Florida State University.
Image: “Römerinnen am Fenster” by Paul Nicolaus. Aquarell (48 x 35 cm). 1935. Public domain.