On the Discovery of Veronica Lake’s Ashes While Antiquing
O love, I am tired of writing rape poems.
I’d like to write one about the old man who owned the bar on Tremont, & had for more years, he said, than he knew, O Jack, how I loved you in my way; & you who, when I walked in, would yell —HEY VERONICA; after Veronica Lake, because at the time I was platinum my hair fell over my eyes I was an incandescence— surrounded as I was by leather daddies sucking each other off in the bathroom; & I, incandescent, shooting pool ridiculously, railing Adderall in the doorless stalls & sipping vodka grapefruits (bitch drinks, was the joke & the joke too is that I was there at all, a bitch in a man’s man’s man’s world)...
Not so many recall what became of Veronica Lake. She died an alcoholic at 50, Veronica did, having lost it all to the drink. Career in the shitter. In the 60s, Ms. Lake rambled through the halls of cheap hotels. Her bangles would clink and her heels clack. She had her kind of song. Ms. Lake. So full of clear liquor you could see right through her. Every place like that accommodates its necessary ghosts. A reporter found her in the Martha Washington. Women’s only. She’d known enough of love. She was cocktailing in the lounge downstairs. She called herself Connie. When she walked into the bar maybe an old man might yell —HEY CONNIE— & if he did; when he did—would she feel beautiful? How often does a naming bestow such a gift.
Veronica was not beautiful in death, having cirrhosis of the liver also acute hepatitis also acute kidney damage… —HEY CONNIE— Her ashes were scattered according to her wishes in the Virgin Islands, although rumor has it some were later found in an antique store in New York, which is a tiring thought— to have a body never ever left alone, no, not even when it is dead. But as I said, I am tired of writing rape poems
from RAPE GIRL
My mother and I would go for rides— this is how she called a drive without destination. We would HAVE TALKS in the car. Or we’d avoid HAVING TALKS in the car. She’d tune the radio to a country station. Then as now, as before and hereafter, men lament beer, fish, their fathers. Women seek love, or else revenge. Or we’d wade through silence, mother & me: hum of engine; pulse of tires beneath us. Gas, then, was cheaper. I paid less mind to oil tycoons. I couldn’t see the end of the horizon. I thought it was without end.
Later she’d purchase a Toyota Tundra off her father, on a payment plan. That I can’t recall if he charged her interest seems important. Though perhaps it isn’t.
To this day, jangle of car keys increases my pulse. What unearthing
The Shenandoah Valley comprises eight counties in Virginia; two more in West. Native etymologies dispute its origin, though white settlers inflict meaning, say Shenandoah denotes Beautiful Daughter of the Stars. When I was a girl, we hiked the valley each summer, June, or else August, spying vervain, flowering indigo, attracting song birds; also ironweed; also beebalm, humming; & swamp milkweed for monarchs; also my mother’s favorites—black eyed susans, and silky dogwood—white flowers falling, catching in our hair.
We would wander off path, my sister and I, never knowing if it were safe to nibble elderberries, coloring oddly at the start of their season; always unsure how to differentiate between the poisonous and delectable. We were someone’s daughters of the stars then—of course time passes. I do not need to tell you this. And uncountable, the stars long gone, weeping signals from so far their light succeeds them. What brackets hold a life, or all the rest—