A Woman Alone
I am airborne in the hammock,
the small dog on my stomach,
but patting the bigger dog
on the ground below us
to assuage his jealousy.
I watch this week’s brand of butterflies
popping like popcorn
above the audacious flowers
of the tabachine bush,
and that confused hummingbird
that has mistaken the Soleri bell for a flower.
My friends and I
serve as constant reminders for each other:
what we walked into the room to do,
what word we meant to end the sentence with,
the name of everybody’s favorite movie star––
the one marooned on the island with a soccer ball?
It is as though loss of memory were infectious.
I eat pizza at midnight
and swim naked in the pool at 2 am.
My cats know my sins
and like me better for them.
are comforted by my shortcomings,
which legitimize their own.
When I talk to the air,
it is unclear whether I talk to the cats
or to myself.
If it is loud chiding,
it is to myself
and I wonder if the neighbors wonder.
“You idiot!!!” I yell in a loud tone at 8 a.m.
when I drop the glass,
spreading my papaya smoothie
in shards of glass
across a ten-foot expanse of tile floor.
Who might they think I am talking to?
Some new lover?
Most probably not.
Yolanda, my housekeeper and friend of 17 years?
Then for shame.
They must alter their impression of me.
“Out! Out!” I bellow at the bigger dog,
whose enthusiastic nails slice my sandaled feet
as I dish out his feed if I do not demand his absence.
“That harpy,” they must think,
not knowing it is the only decibel
he responds to.
Those of us who live alone
are never really quite alone in Mexico,
where private lives
are so easily shared
in spite of walls.
It is as though
sounds echo more easily
in the high mountain air,
and we become one large family,
putting up with each other’s secrets.
But, no responsibility
for husband or children or roommates,
we sink into the luxury of selfishness.
Sleeping at odd hours,
wearing our pajamas from bedtime
to next bedtime,
calling out to the gardener from behind curtains,
accustoming the housekeeper to our sleepless nights
and long mornings of slumber.
No one to explain the junk drawer to,
or the large accumulation of toilet paper rolls,
for which you have a definite purpose
that you never quite get around to.
The luxury of a nude body
no one else short of the doctor
will ever see.
The back of your head
where snarls can exist
until the next trip to town.
The Petit Ecole cookies
you need not share
The unmade bed uncensored.
The best hammock always your own.
An internet band unshared.
Three huge double closets––all yours.
Only your toothbrush in the glass beside the sink.
Every leftover cup of coffee
sitting on surfaces around the house
one you can sip out of
with no fear of any disease
other than the ones you already harbor.
What you always feared.
That fear now behind you.
You were so wrong.