Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.

Laura Minor

The Open Window on State St.

Roman Women at the Window by Paul Nicolaus

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: Roman Women at the Window by Paul Nicolaus (1904-1945). Aquarelle. 48 x 35 cm. 1935. By free license.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation
supporting writers and artists worldwide.

Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.