He couldn’t imagine it now, kicking back, back kicking, wandering around with a glass, weirdly morose or—what’s the word?— jolly. His voice sounding vaguely Swiss or Peruvian or Dutch. Could he pick up the rhythm of the lush he once was, get lugubrious with that woman from the controller’s office? Break down, regret everything or— the opposite— boast? What latch keeps a brain from spinning like a prawn dropped on a stranger’s parquet? Ages ago in a land far away lucky people got three martinis for lunch. Whole lifetimes hung on a ledge disgorging the slippery feelers of sloe gin. Who would he be if he passed out again? Or if love plucked his eyes and made any throat glisten? This descendant of men who broke their necks in buckets of hard cider? Why am I speaking at this moment as if I were a man? What ruse am I guilty of? What keeps a lobster out of a tank?
Lee Upton‘s fifth book of poems is Undid in the Land of Undone (New Issues Press, 2007). Her poetry appeared in The Best American Poetry 2008. She is also the author of many short stories and four books of literary criticism. (4/2009)