In LA, we stayed friends for a while
with our realtor. She was lean, hollow-eyed,
obsessive. A residual charge
from house-hunting coursed through us, and
we accompanied her a few times
at night to places she was trying to sell
in the Valley. Withered lawns;
on driveways. “Good bones,” said our friend
of one house, and I suppose
it had, in that land without brick.
And a scruffy arbutus. The darkness
was brassy, so near Ventura Boulevard;
the moon looked strange, as always in LA.
In the ceiling light, the living room
was green, wan; there were tracks
in the carpet. Walls were scuffed;
had been moved, our friend said, and with
her uncomfortable smile showed us
the outsized bathroom. “He was really,
really fat.” With strings of beads and chains
of bangles still on the walls, beneath
a sort of chandelier, an immense
combination tub / hot tub,
now littered, stained, was buttressed by blue tiles.
“Yes, he was married.” One stretch
of the broad rim sagged; the tiles
were broken there and had been regrouted –
often, apparently. “No, she was normal-sized.”
Why had he sat there? To soak his feet?
Enjoy the steam, reflections from the beads?
Talk? I wanted to ask how
they seemed together, but didn’t. Imagined
her leaning on his doughy chest,
a quietness, an air
of tragedy that seemed on second thought
at odds with the kitsch. The realtor wasn’t sure
as yet if the place would be fixed up
or torn down. What it taught
about the nature and limits
of love, though worth considering, was obscure.
Frederick Pollack’s two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness, are both published by Story Line Press. A collection of shorter poems, A Poverty Of Words, appeared in 2015 from Prolific Press. His work has appeared in Hudson Review, Magma (UK), Iota (UK), Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), Hamilton Stone Review, The New Hampshire Review, etc. He is adjunct professor of creative writing at George Washington University.