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  • An Argument, and: Before and After, and: Vista Hermosa
  • Maxine Scates (bio)

An Argument

I don't know why I am so movedby early photographs of cityscapes and ruinswhere tiny figures walk together or alonewhen I distrust the posed close-ups of a bored girlsprouting angel wings or one of the great poets,chin cupped in his hands, staring pensivelyfrom the same era. I think it's because I do knoweverything is open to interpretation or do I meanis an illusion, an argument I sometimesdon't realize I'm entering the wayinside a long friendship I said Luckand you said you didn't believe in it, and I said maybefirst there's Luck and after that working hardto hold onto it when actually I don't believein Luck either as whatever was happening between uskept on happening, you asking question after question,those questions now reminding me how sometimes

I wonder how I have lived a lifetime knowing so littleand remembering less than what I never forget:In my grandparents' house there was the auraof the century they were born in,that century of cityscapes and ruins thoughthey were never part of any photograph. I don'tknow why that matters except that it was somethingI could never say but knew. And when I said wordswere just words, I meant that they can never entirelysay no matter how hard we try. They are [End Page 117]

the reason we keep trying. I should have saidmy grandfather drank his coffeefrom a white bowl with a blue rim,and in that house a bowl meant bowl and the ice boxwas an ice box waiting for the ice man to hookhis chunk of ice into a gunny sack and leave itout in the alley. I should have said I haven't seen or hearda red-winged blackbird in two or three summers.I miss its song, or, I know now that whenthe neighbor held me and rocked me as she weptthat she was drunk which is the originof my belief I don't exist except as somethingto hold onto. The blackbird means,

as does the amount of wood I stack each summer,the fallen trees. Ours was a small storyfilled with absences, each of us trying to imaginethe other. Such an old argument all this imagining . . .

Before and After

I try to rememberwhat I was thinking about and whenI look back I see I arrived by boat in a dreamwhere someone asked Is the water deep?and the boatman steppedinto the water to pull the boat to shore. Your familywas there, but you were sleeping. Then you appeared,then disappeared.

        Before the future was still ahead of useven as we were growing older. After I know

as long as I speak to you you're not goneas in the dream where you were giving a party, [End Page 118]

and in the last room where I found you,you were sleeping again. When I looked for a placeto write down what I had seen,I woke you. You smiled, but now I wonderif I disturb you becauseI always have one more thing to tell you—this time it's how in the movie theater the aliensemerged from the fog, long tentaclesdangling hooves like those of giraffes,and I remembered a wedding reception at a zoo,how I wandered up to see the giraffes,the band playing down below as the bride sangI'm gonna love you like nobody's loved youcome rain or come shine though the marriageis over now. In the movietime had no beginning and no end, looping endlessly,the leaders of the world as always terrified by intrudersand turning on each other. At the end, the characterwho'd already seen the future asked her loverif he would live his life over if he knewwhat was coming, and then I heard you say or sigh, Oh Maxas clearly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-426X
Print ISSN
0032-6682
Pages
pp. 117-120
Launched on MUSE
2019-12-21
Open Access
No
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