Sex with a Famous Poet
I had sex with a famous poet last night and when I rolled over and found myself beside him I shuddered because I was married to someone else, because I wasn't supposed to have been drinking, because I was in fancy hotel room I didn't recognize. I would have told you right off this was a dream, but recently a friend told me, write about a dream, lose a reader and I didn't want to lose you right away. I wanted you to hear that I didn't even like the poet in the dream, that he has four kids, the youngest one my age, and I find him rather unattractive, that I only met him once, that is, in real life, and that was in a large group in which I barely spoke up. He disgusted me with his disparaging remarks about women. He even used the word "Jap" which I took as a direct insult to my husband who's Asian. When we were first dating, I told him "You were talking in your sleep last night and I listened, just to make sure you didn't call out anyone else's name." My future-husband said that he couldn't be held responsible for his subconscious, which worried me, which made me think his dreams were full of blond vixens in rabbit-fur bikinis. but he said no, he dreamt mostly about boulders and the ocean and volcanoes, dangerous weather he witnessed but could do nothing to stop. And I said, "I dream only of you," which was romantic and silly and untrue. But I never thought I'd dream of another man-- my husband and I hadn't even had a fight, my head tucked sweetly in his armpit, my arm around his belly, which lifted up and down all night, gently like water in a lake. If I passed that famous poet on the street, he would walk by, famous in his sunglasses and blazer with the suede patches at the elbows, without so much as a glance in my direction. I know you're probably curious about who the poet is, so I should tell you the clues I've left aren't accurate, that I've disguised his identity, that you shouldn't guess I bet it's him... because you'll never guess correctly and even if you do, I won't tell you that you have. I wouldn't want to embarrass a stranger who is, after all, probably a nice person, who was probably just having a bad day when I met him, who is probably growing a little tired of his fame-- which my husband and I perceive as enormous, but how much fame can an American poet really have, let's say, compared to a rock star or film director of equal talent? Not that much, and the famous poet knows it, knows that he's not truly given his due. Knows that many of these young poets tugging on his sleeve are only pretending to have read all his books. But he smiles anyway, tries to be helpful. I mean, this poet has to have some redeeming qualities, right? For instance, he writes a mean iambic. Otherwise, what was I doing in his arms.
From The Star-Spangled Banner, Southern Illinois University Press, 1999. Reprinted with pemission of Denise Duhamel.