Provincetown

My dictionary, which was my mother’s dictionary, does not contain tofu, Fu Manchu, go mo fo, or fee fi fo fum. It does contain Vixen, which is a female fox, the name of a lesbian bar in Provincetown, and not a bad Scrabble word either. A murder of crows, an unkindness of ravens, restore my faith in the collective noun. Therefore I will take my bubble bath now. My potato peeler, which was my mother’s potato peeler, has only just today begun to blunt. And ‘Cotton balls’ is a complete sentence. Buddha spelled backwards is Ah ddub, which one says in a tub, to dub oneself the happy Buddha of one’s bathroom. And if a thief stole in, in a black woolen cap, and pointed a gun, and said, “Your money or your life,” wouldn’t you say—wouldn’t even your mother say—that “your money or your life” is a complete sentence, with an implied subject, predicate and indirect object? Damn straight you would, you goddamn piano player. Go ahead, throw a stone. For once in your life, throw a stone. Throw one at me. I’ll take your picture throwing one stone at me. Show me your teeth, you vixen. And I’ll show you the blood my dictionary lets. My mother should have been a lesbian rabbi making love to a congregation of one in a lighthouse in Provincetown, Massachusetts. My father the artist, my mother the apologist. The artist’s widow said his theory of Heaven could be summed up by the light bulb—not the halo, it wasn’t a halo—above the figure in his final painting. Then she got into her Toyota Coyote and drove off. And we all understood the importance of what she had told us. For she’d been the dissolute wife of a dissolute dead artist. And we all knew what it meant to be hungry. And we all knew what it meant to lose the remote. And though I wanted to use ‘pleasure’ as a verb, not ‘buoy’, I used ‘buoy’. As if to masturbate in a coffin. Then I went straight to bed and dreamed of a hundred emaciated haiku poets standing on the side of the road, holding up their poems. And their poems were traffic signs, mournful, necessary, and without the slightest editorial. I read them over and over, hooked arms with the blind girl tapping her cane, read them aloud to her as the world drew up its skirts, like a drawbridge, and let us pass.