Ode to the Couches of the 1950s
Poem by Brian Le Lay
A Connecticut housewife confined
By an hourglass idyll once graced this couch,
With charm-school poise, curtsied stems,
Sheaved in hose, crochet hook in hand,
Crowned with Crockett cap or sunbonnet,
Anchored by her apron and womb,
Ankle-cuffed in matrimony to a dubious debt collector
Who fashioned a wine-red smoking jacket
When he nipped an after-dinner liqueur,
Thumbed a packet of racing forms,
His miserly heart choked to an occasional stop
By the stifling grip of a money-clip.
She, starved for affection, continually on the verge
Of quiet tears wept into a cheese cloth,
Prodded into a tacit disorder by days and decades
Of feather-dusting the golden egg, aimlessly pacing,
Waiting in a town with no train station,
For a pot of coffee to percolate, for death, or God
To descend patronly from the attic steps,
Like an eyelash dripping rain. A spot of her
Once-radiant nail polish fell from the speculum,
At the thought of a seamless escape, but we know
The endurable belles and convex dandies
Of the past rest fixed in a state of raw putrefaction.
When we sit we can sense the dead who hibernate
In the couch’s embroidered snowflakes,
The bedbugs stupefied and dancing in their castle,
But maybe we will meet this woman
At the climax of a future reincarnation,
Fall in love on an icy lake made of strangers’
Mirrored skates and faces, a fractured city
Frostbitten underneath, not knowing
We had lived there once,
Not knowing we will live there
Again, but finally,
The furniture will be new.
The 2015 Charter Oak Award for Best Historical
We are pleased to announce this piece as a finalist for the 2015 Charter Oak Award for Best Historical, honoring the independent press’ best writing on themes of historical people, places, events, objects, or ideas. The winners are selected by an external panel that judges all pieces blindly and selects the full list of 12 finalists from hundreds of entries. Alternating Current does not determine the final outcome for the judging; the external judges’ decisions are final.
BRIAN LE LAY is a poet and a sociology student in Boston, Massachusetts. His poems have recently appeared in The Orange Room Review, Word Riot, and Gutter Eloquence.
Originally published on 12/9/15.