Two poems · Joan Schadt


the waves were so cold
that hit my body,

came crashing onto me all
at once, overruling a resolution to lower

part (tiny holes in the blanket)

by (kissing you as for air)

part (spots of light scattered across our faces)

into the salty water.
it was you, carrying me tightly over

the ocean-sand threshold,
who made me a mermaid bride.

in my pink bikini, I
was human, but when

you kissed me
between sheets of icegreen water,

I grew fins and gills,
wildfanned tail, wavylight hair,

splashed under the blanket of clear sea,
the cool shock of being born.

M. LaRoche

“From my office,” M. LaRoche said,
“One can see le Tour Eiffel.”
I always wanted to ask him--
What I never asked him was--
What was weird between us was--
Vous avez toujours voulu faire ça?
Have you always wanted to do that?
Have you always wanted to be un photographe?

When I had girls over,
He became official,
Took the lint and letters
Out of Mlle. LaRoche’s top drawer,
Spread them out on the salon
Rug, and arranged them in little piles
For little French reasons.

I asked him:
-Is it okay if we watch a movie?
-Vous avez déjà demandé à Mademoiselle…?
-No, I forgot. Is it okay?
-Normalement, on demande à la propriétaire…
-I know, but I forgot. Is it okay?
-Normalement, on demande…

“While I am out of the country,”
Explained Mlle. LaRoche,
“My brother will stay
With you.” My mother said
It wouldn’t do. Fifty-year-old men
Do not watch over young girls
In drafty apartments unless they are
Nabokov or Balthus.

A bourgeois event photographer
In too-tight pants and glasses,
Always turning on Ave Daumesnil
At the moment I was kissing
Someone goodbye or smoking
A cigarette. Meticulously
Slicing tomatoes in the kitchen
When I skirted by, wanting to eat
But it wasn’t my turn, so I found
Satisfaction elsewhere.

One night I came home soaked
In red wine, and sat next to him.
I’d staged a perfect Humbert
Opéra. My door was always half-
Open, but he kept his eyes fixed
On his sister, and God.

He looked down
With important purpose
Each time I scurried from the bathroom,
Leaving soap prints
Across the creaky floor,
To my forbidden room.