for Ken Tompkins           

Eventually, you understand—even if the ice blue bathrobe slung 
on the edge of the door, glimpsed in the backlight of the hall stairs in half-
sleep is not the Holy Mother come with a message, even
if there’s no man with an ax on the stairs, one day, you’re going
out, you’re riding the tide of madness or just plain death, and no one
can save you, not even your wily friend with the ankle-length
hair like a Lady Samson, who says at 7 she accepted the wolf
is always at the door, as if acceptance is its own steely shield, as if
to say “Yes, yes, it’s happening” can also somehow keep it out. At 13
all you wanted was a time machine to jigger the air and drop you in close
enough proximity to the Beatles in 1964 that you could convince Paul
to love you, or at least to kiss you on the mouth, or at least to strum 
“And I Love Her” at you with some sweet meaning in his calf’s eyes.
You wanted to—come on, you still do—poke your finger through
a book that seemed, that was, as rich and real and sloppy as an apple
pie, you wanted hard evidence of realities dropped from the sky—Scarlett’s
green velvet sash, Plain Jane’s shredded wedding veil, you might wail
against plain sight (the rain racing down the chain-link fence
of your yard) you might wish so hard for a wind-swept moor
that your head would ache between the eyes—you wanted the pastoral
the gothic, the tropos, the tropic, but you knew nothing
of that, desire was not yet bifurcated by language, it just was. Listen,
eventually even Ringo Starr comes home and tells his gorgeous, aging
wife “I’ve got this great idea for a band, an all-star band, made of ALL
STARS,” and she says, absently, the kettle in her hand, “That’s nice,
sweetie, that’s good.” The madness isn’t coming, it’s here, it’s lovely,
your own endless subjectivity transformed, the grail discarded
in the bin, another quiver in the still, finished air that becomes
a sly voice, a line on the map you never noticed before, a door
behind the door, a house inside of your house—and so, you fall
in love, you fall in love with a white-haired philosopher, a Lear-like
emeritus, a pot-smoking physicist, a 19-year old woman, a lovely, lonely
girl, a subject, an object, a mirror and nothing like one, desire,
a time machine staring from the front-row of your class, a ripple
of close-cropped black curls you might give anything to grasp. 


About evanduyne

I'm assistant professor of writing at Stockton University, where I'm also affiliated faculty in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. I work on Sylvia Plath, contingent faculty, and creative writing around trauma and domestic violence.
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