LUNCH AT THE ALGONQUIN HOTEL
Thank God for caviar and champagne.
They are an antidote to condescension, Helen thinks.
An actress, a Park Avenue socialite and a celebrity columnist
blanket her in their awe.
Once again, she is the eighth
wonder of the world.
Annie, her teacher, spells out their bromides,
letter by letter, into Helen's reluctant hands.
"You're so amazing!" intones the starlet,
"do you really know how to eat?"
I went to Radcliffe and learned Greek
as well as the Harvard boys.
I believe I can manage a salad fork,
she'd like to tell this half-baked floozy.
But, the ladies who lunch frown
on sarcastic deaf-blind saints.
Still, against all her good breeding,
her naked life-force comes alive.
Taking her fingers out of Annie's hand,
away from the flowing fountain of pity,
FINGERTIPS AND CIGARETTES:
HELEN AT THE CAFE
I never wanted to be a saint.
The heat from the gaze
of strangers almost burns my hands.
They call me wonder woman, then say
they'd rather be dead than live like me.
I'd like to blow smoke rings around
their pity--to unravel their tightly
wound worship. If only they could
have seen me hung over this morning
or hugging the softness of mink coats
at Saks Fifth Avenue this afternoon.
"Get the espresso," my fingertips
plead, "I must be awake."
Robyn Johnson Ross
It wasn't supposed to happen.
I'm on the playground,
ready to run around
the world in my new sneakers.
Blind girls have cooties,
Frankie says. "I'd
rather kiss a frog."
Frankie gets his wish.
I'm in my room,
not doing my homework,
daydreaming about the Beatles.
No one will marry you,
my grandma says. "But you
can be another Helen Keller."
Five hundred pimply years pass.
I couldn't see it coming.
I'm in a cornfield
in Loveland, Ohio,
another blind girl,
for Hilary Tham
Let the day fetch the answers
that the night takes away.
Let there be room in the inn,
though life's a seedy hotel story.
Strike a deal with the sick:
though they may die of afflictions
so horrible that even You
will avert Your eyes,
their songs, like angels
sunbathing on the beach,
will echo in Your ear forever.
WHAT ANGELS DO ON THEIR DAY OFF
Adam and Eve.
with the hungry,
but discerning gods.
with the dead.
Dance to hip-hop.
Go to ballgames.
Boo the umpire.
Take a bus tour
of the stars'
homes in hell.
Kathi Wolfe is a writer and poet in Falls Church, VA. Her freelance journalism and commentary have appeared in The Washington Post, Utne Reader, and many other publications. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Not Just Air, Ragged Edge Magazine, Innisfree Poetry, Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly, Kaleidoscope, Disability Studies Quarterly, The Potomac Review, and The Christian Century. In February 2004, Wolfe completed a month-long residency at Vermont Studio Center. In 2004, Moon Pie Press, a fine-letter press, published a limited edition chapbook, Surrealism Before 10 a.m. She has read her poetry at the Bethesda Literary Festival, the Joaquin Miller Cabin Series, the Library of Congress Poetry at Noon Series, and other area poetry series.
Published in Volume 7, Number 1, Winter 2006.
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