poor polly parallax in the empty cup cafe (jupiter and semele – part one)
Poor Polly Parallax in the Empty Cup Cafe
here I sit, thinks Miss Semele, Poor Polly Parallax, sitting at a round table in a coffee shop in a small city hanging off the edge of the North American continent, here I sit, thinks she, and I have been alone so long I need and love my loneliness, I wear it like an old sweatshirt, like this old sweatshirt i’m wearing now, and these people walk through those doors, line up for their coffeebean dripwater, and out they go again, none the wiser to my watching glancing –
she takes a sip of her own coffeebean dripwater, and looks at a middle aged woman, with yellow but graying hair, and her young boychild, awkard and anxious next to her, fidgeting as his mother looks up at the great big board with her fifty different choices.
Who is that mother, and who is that son, and is it the son she expected she would? Does she look at him, sometimes, and remember the bulgebelly he oncewas? Is it not passing strange, and is that parturition, that severance, that fundamental bloody yucky popping-out life-creation, is it not the beginning of some passing for her? Semele touched a hand to her own stomach, reaching underneath the sweatshirt and feeling the soft flesh beneath – how does a lover feel my skin – her normal little stomach, sometimes, like now, fatter than she would like – is that why the don’t like me, she often wonders, and wonders now – and thinks about fishes swimming in dark oceans, growing hands and feets, of silent strangeness, of a science-fiction movie and gross popping –
Semele watches the mother get her coffee, and tell her son to follow her out. Semele watches them get into the car and drive away. She thinks of her own mother, who she talked to a week ago, should talk to her more, but the silence of mother’s imagined unasked questions, of knowing stories of mother’s own youth, how she had many boyfriends, until Semele’s Daddy-O had swept old Mrs. Semele off her feet and planted her bellystuff with three strapping babydolls – O Mother, you stifle me with your wrinkled face, Semele wanly smiles, why do you have to look like me? But Semele smiles at her own lie, a secret smile — her mother was beautiful and Semele had been an ugly child and thus loved that now, in her lately twenties, was beginning to look a bit more like the Mrs. — there’s hope for me yet, Ma —