Westwood Lodge, 1980–1990
By Sarah Hanna
And then again, you go west, to that perennial
Resort at the end of the bending street, row of pines,
Where Sexton strolled through noon, made mocassins,
And danced in a circle: the Summer Hotel.
Why every tumid season, cicadas burning blue,
Beetles mounting one another, chewing all the flowers,
Do your pupils pinpoint, your breath sours?
I call the police, who’ve nothing else to do
(“Safest city in America” or so our town’s ordained);
They arrive in flashing squadrons: at least eleven
Armed, sturdy men, five cars, for one uneven,
Overly-sedated woman past sixty. You’ve downed
Some sedatives with wine. How many? Your swoon
Gives none away; the Xanax bottle lies beneath the bed
With cigarettes and nylon socklets, so your stomach’s pumped
Just in case. You always make it known to someone
Swiftly after it’s been done: you will be saved. Inside,
Double-locked, you wait in line to use the phone. (Twenty-five
Years later, I still dream you’re calling; you’re alive,
Away someplace, but a vast conspiracy of bureaucrats hides
You from me. I wake, cried out. Does it mean, and where?)
Back then you reached me, asked for cigarettes,
Stockings, underwear, and the small two-volume set
Of Redon (ed. Rosaline Bacou). It doesn’t matter
That the text’s in French—it’s got color plates.
While you’re gone, I have the house to myself,
Turn the radio up, sing to the bookshelves,
Across the stucco arches, to the ceiling’s walnut
Beams: Jay and the Americans’ “This Magic Moment,”
With some irony, but not quite as much
As one might think, considering the lawn’s gone thatch,
Burned brown, you’re in lock up, and my paycheck’s spent.
Speaking of lawns, ours was once all sun and dapple.
Childhood. A man mowed, a woman watered.
Something had to rot, go sour; someone ate the apple.
God died in the yard, à la Søren Kierkegaard—
In the doom of the downward slash: Existentialism
One-Oh-One, for frosh. I lie out and rub
Baby oil on my legs, hope to burn. God’s a white grub.
He ate the lawn, but we can’t afford to exterminate him.
Upside: you can’t yell at me for wasting time lying
In the sun (to please a man?). Downside: the docs
Tell me each time you come back in, they’ll lock
You up for longer. If this crazy summer torquing
Doesn’t stop, they’ll put you somewhere else
For good (when we’ve run through the insurance)—
An institution of the state. No moondance,
Cakewalk. Or maybe dancing all the time in circles.
But for now, the asylum grass we walk on’s trimmed,
Thick, and green. We watch the sky from Adirondack
Chairs. I bring flowers—cosmos, phlox, and hollyhock,
Your favorite—from our garden. Then, on a whim
One day, I arrive early, to your delight; I’m the only one,
After all, who comes. I’ve packed your acid-free
Paper and watercolors, though you didn’t ask. Forgive me,
You say, I’ll paint planets. Best thing I could have done.