More Poems

by Adam Sass

The old woman with a little boy's haircut
Bends over between the tourists' tables
And spanks her own bottom.

Then she is dancing,
Spinning, clapping, high-stepping
To an accompaniment of nervous laughter
That to her is just laughter.
"Why aren't you dancing?" she cries.
"Dance with me!"

And some do, bemused men
Who rise from their sidewalk tables
And take a few turns in the street with her
As their wives shake their heads, smiling,
And Rosie clutches them close,
Her hands wandering downwards.

She is famous around town,
Conjuring rueful smiles,
Arched eyebrows,
And a single question:
"Was she drunk?"

At your table she relates stories of
Distant family, Canadian winters, a house abandoned.
It's bullshit, all bullshit,
And she's finally shaken it off
And come to ground in this hot place.
"They all think I'm crazy up there anyway," she says,
And you cannot blame them,
Though hers only seems
The north-northwest variety.

There is one story she cannot stop telling,
A livid wound that will not close:
How she was once bound, robbed, and left for dead
In a quarry by men she thought were friends.
It took her a day and a night to crawl out again.

"They took everything, everything," she says.
"They even took my glasses.
They would have taken my false teeth
If they'd known about them.
Can you believe that?"
You do not say so, but you can.

At closing time she bids farewell with beery kisses
Delivered with a wet mouth and a tight grip.
Then she is off, weaving homeward, alone,
Already half-real:
A fading stroke of local color
In a painting you'll sell your friends.

Almost as an afterthought
Someone calls out,
"Good night, Rosie,"
And now it is on everyone's lips:
"Good night, Rosie,
Good night."