On the way back from the dance in the days of cars with bench seats, she slid over to you, put her hand on your thigh, said Shall we park? & she was dark & beautiful & now these many years later you see she was desperate for you & you for her & what did you say, Catholic boy? Oh, I’d better get home & fact was you could have said I’d love to, but I wouldn’t know what to do—and now you know that would have been OK, that she would have said I’ll teach you, then—she was kind that way—for she’d been taught & perhaps had taught others & for her this was not new, and what a lesson it would have been.
Twenty years later you’re alone on an elevator in a department store, you’re going down & the door opens at a floor before the one you want & you see in the distance a gold brocade dress draped across an ornate chair & from hard right she steps into the elevator & you look at each other & you hear her quick intake of breath as she must have heard yours & she turns to face the door & at the ground floor the door opens & each of you walks away.
Gerald Fleming’s most recent book is The Bastard and the Bishop, a collection of prose poems (Hanging Loose Press, 2021). Other titles include One (also HL), The Choreographer (Sixteen Rivers Press), Night of Pure Breathing (HL), and Swimmer Climbing onto Shore (Sixteen Rivers). Fleming taught for thirty-seven years in San Francisco’s public schools and has written various books for teachers, including Rain, Steam, and Speed (a title taken from the great Turner painting), which details an innovative process of intensive writing with adolescents—writing accompanied by outrageously loud, carefully curated instrumental music. He lives most of the year in the Far West and, when there’s no plague occurring, part of the year in Paris. Fleming’s poetry and prose poems have appeared widely in magazines over the past forty years.
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Author: Terence Winch