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Phantom love.

Pablo Neruda, what were you doing with a lap full of orange peels, sitting in the rust colored stratolounger that someone, during night, put into Lake Michigan? You reclining head back, feet up, catching the white waves splashing like spaetzles all around you. I could hear you reciting "Elephant" "Gross innocent Saint Elephant blessed beast..."

Why a visitation here in the land of Mars Cheesecastles, knockwurst, headcheese, sheepshead, Esterhazy Schnitzel, Great Lakes Dragaway and steak tartare? Your eyes smiled daises when the heavy lady walking by you looked savagely at her husband and said: "To hell with deviled eggs."

Pablo, do you, like me, believe everywhere is beautiful, and we should try to visit all places or maybe stay in one place long enough to know everywhere and one through it until one is transparent with butterflies waiting to start their holy migration to everywhere?

How beneficently you accepted the Moosehead beer I offered you. I loved our beach volleyball game. Did you come to me because I used your line on clothes as an epigraph on the poem I wrote about my mother's hosiery? Did you come to me to relieve my terrors? Because we both love Anne Sexton & artichokes? (Does Anne Sexton read her poems in heaven?)

Did you come to me because we share a belief in an impure poetry, one soiled and stained with our "shameful behavior... vigils and dreams...declarations of loathing, love...and beasts."

I took you to the Santa Monica convent to see three nuns' coats on the convent's clothesline, each coat blown full and black with God. On the evening news we watched together the story of a baby who that morning had fallen through a third floor window screen down three stories to bushes that caught and held the child unharmed until her panicked parents reached her. You told me Lorca's holy dismembered hands were in the bushes and instantly I knew it true. Phantom hands.

Under the night's sky cat's cradle of electrical lines, pink balloon clouds, sprinklers & candles, we talked of things falling apart and the beauty as they do, and after they do, and before they do. We decided to go to a concertina bar. On the way there, I told you about the baseball pitcher and the pain he still feels in his amputated arm.

His arm floats in heaven; still it burns with phantom pain, and I recognize this phantom pain as the Doppelganger of the phantom love I carry for all who are a part of me but gone.

Pablo, Pablo, Pablo, you left the concertina bar so early, and I knew not to follow you. Two peppermint schnapps later, again alone, I left the bar the single hero of my own night. I noticed a spring storm had emptied the trees of blossoms and littered the patent leather streets, and ground, and parked cars. I came to my own blossom covered car, turned on the car lights, the car wipers: blossom storm. I drove off in what looked like some great prehistoric blossom animal, and I filled with concertina music, poems and butterflies migrated in the always flyway of flagrant blossoms and phantom loves.
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Author:Firer, Susan
Publication:Chicago Review
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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