Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I didn't know there would be math

Today's Writer's Digest assignment was a sestina.

I picked some words--with thoughts about the laundromat in the Garden District of New Orleans where you can get pizza, play pool, and wash your socks.

St. Charles’ Laundromat

Years later, she would reckon it "the folly
on the trolley": the day they took the sheet
and blankets on the streetcar down St. Charles
to the bar-laundromat combo. A burr
or two had hitchhiked, but it could be hand-
picked from the blanket’s countenance. Truly,

she wished their tryst could twist so free, for truly
she recognized her hurricane-soaked folly,
her primal flush when, like a wing, his hand
fell on her shoulder, then dropped like a sheet.
"Daisy,” she'd breathed—an alias. In a burr
of Edinburgh—or Pittsburgh--he'd said, "Charles."

And there it was, that stain, that thing with Charles:
a wart she’d like to burn away. Truly
she’d wronged her Dean, looming like Raymond Burr
in Rear Window in her mind, a man sans folly,
his countenance six-hundred-thread-count-sheet
smooth. And three weeks hence, her father would hand

her off, and Raymond--Dean--would take her hand,
never again to tipple at St. Charles’
launderette, her sins washed clean. The sheet
would wear thin, and the kids would make ghosts--truly,
she didn't want kids; but thirty meant folly
should be flicked off, discarded, like the burr

blanket-caught when this fake stranger's fake burr
warmed her ear, when his faux-Romeo hand
stroked her breast. (She faked nothing there.) Folly
was to be sent packing, along with Charles--
if that was his name. You know, truly,
she’d ditch them both and start with a blank sheet

for the next act. Her head spun like the sheet
now twisted lewdly—then, razzing a burr,
it clunked still and just lay there. She’d had, truly,
enough of it all but Abita. "Hand
me the basket, Charles," she asked.... "Charles?"
Texting someone’s fiancee. The folly

on the trolley was thinking that that sheet
would ever cover Charles again. The burr
and life in hand, she rejoiced. Truly.

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