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La Guardia, the story.


A man in the clot of colors--which are people--is holding a naked iris, is watching the long fine of faces unloading. He holds the flower up to his chest, then down at a tilt to his side--in one hand behind his back makes a surprise. He runs through his posture now and again. He uses one shoe at a time for standing.

The long line of faces--its trickle and blurt--hurts me. He is watching for her face.

She must have sat at the back of the plane--a seven-forty-seven, she's been smoking. Perhaps something has happened that matters. Perhaps what has happened is nothing--but the face that arrives is never the face that left us. Remember that.

I want to rest my head on his back, or his blue flannel shirt. I imagine her face which must arrive. I imagine that she must not disappoint him. Will I know her before he sees her? What does their story mean to me?

I used to walk through Kensington gardens every morning on my way to school that winter we lived at Lancaster gate. This is a story too--does it have meaning? Is it about something that matters--does it tell how the branches aged the white sky? Is its secret in the fog or the red sun rising, in the ducks on the Serpentine as seen through a layer of mist? Can it why my mother whimpered in her sleep that year?

In the frame story she walks off last, sees the flower--hands up for a moment for surprise before she takes it. She gives him a small kiss and they head off arm in arm in the direction marked "Baggage" and "Ground Transportation," down the long hall happily, until I can no longer see them.

This is the story as I saw it happen. The story as I told it.

In their second story he waits with the iris long after she doesn't arrive--but for some other reason than for so I can save him--she has been delayed--perhaps by something inconsequential, we don't know yet, but in the second story

Is there any other possible story? Walking home from school in the afternoons I'd stop and sit by the Serpentine and rub my fingers on the curbstone. I loved the raw circles I made in their tips--symmetrical and red as the skin under the popped bubble of a blister.

Is there any other story possible? Who must I be to complete it?

Make her exist.


I am stuck in the middle of the story, not knowing if she will arrive. I saw her face, this makes no difference--there is a man at La Guardia holding an iris. When I think of it I cannot stop fearing for him.

How do you unlock a story? How do you recognize the image--the one that might change you?

If I put in the part about my mother and step-father fighting, if I describe --perfectly--his body in action, his shadow on the wall behind him, or add the bit about it all boiling down to inquisitions in the rational morning--as in whose dark anus holds the safe-box key--will we have a story with a meaning?

There is a way to discover a truth about anything you want to know.

I imagine there's a way to know what's real.

Listen--I walked through an empty park every morning on my way to school and knew that it was good to be human.


Some nights I make a killer pot of coffee--I put on the music that I love, and dance. Sometimes I dance for hours.

Go to your phonograph. Put on Brandenburg Concerto number six.

This is about something very hard. --This is about trying to live with that music playing in the back of your mind.

--About trying to live in a world with that kind of music.
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Author:Mead, Jane
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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