Jennifer & Angelina

Jennifer

I never pretend my life is normal.
Jesus, no, this is the jackpot, this is not
normal, I remember normal, I was one
of a thousand neon tetra turning

in a tank too small, struggling to shake off
the school, all flashing with brilliance. Endless
work outs, saving for dental, make up, hunger,
auditions. That word makes my neck spasm.

The bathrooms were the worst: harsh light and upset
stomachs, the cold tap running, a stream
of young women pushing the door, shooting
a look my way, thinking – how can she dream

of the lead part with that nose. I was cute
and I was funny and somehow I had the drive
to keep it coming but even when I won
the audition they’d can the pilot. Until

that lucky break. But I think about those
women, are they still waiting tables, serving
in stores in their fifties? In downward dog
I’m always grateful, feeling the sun kiss me

through the jasmine in my private studio,
the vintage temple doors flown in from
I don’t recall where, my yoga teacher on-call
seven days and she comes with me, on location.

A husband seems a small price to pay.
So when he lost his mind, when he ran off
with that fucking drag queen, with that snake
of an action hero bitch, part of me

was relieved. They didn’t kill my first born;
squalling and safe in the bulrushes,
ugly with need. And spared.
I never pretend my life is normal.

Angelina

Venice. Spring. Speedboat.
Waiting for a journalist,
I arrange my limbs.

A man. Good. Got him.
The cabin sways, he blushes twice,
his questions tickle

like pet mice. It’s soothing
for twenty minutes, then I itch,
give the signal, that’s it.

On the way back
to the rental I’m charmed by
a fifteenth century

façade. I send someone
to make enquiries; I need a job
for Brad. Overseeing

the renovation…
I like this new security guy,
he holds a door firmly.

Six nannies sit to
attention in the parlour
supervising painting,

explaining aerodynamics.
I know they were slumped just a moment
ago. Like Brad, I’m sure,

still slumped and absent.
He’ll say he was sculpting. Nonsense.
I know he’s smoking weed,

texting stupid jokes
to stupid George. He never feels
this way, never feels

the tremor of violence
inside. Never grabs a razor blade,
never slides it across his skin

to feel the tension break.
Never needs the cool, glassy handshake
of pain in one place.

I need a break!
Strict instructions, no interruptions,
but send security.

After, I stop at the top
of the stairs, give them time, wait for my cue.
The music begins –

my babies want to groove
with me, pushing to get close.
I choose one, lift him high

for a slow dance with Mama.
The eyes of the other five pull at me
like teeth. Then the doorbell:

the stylist, with the hair,
the make-up and the journalist.
Oh! Silly me! Part two

of our interview,
sorry, it’s crazy round here.
Me and all these goofy

little people, if I’d
remembered I would have dressed
but never mind, let’s go.

Published in Antiphon, June 2015