Marj Hahne

Reception at the Dushanbe Teahouse
After the Boulder Philharmonic

Tonight I am the weird girl
seated at a small table. Alone.
The people can’t see me but I can
see them. Eating. Drinking. Chatting. One
humming. I pull from my purse a book
(of poems, of course). The jazz trio plays
“Cantaloop,” “So What” from Miles’s
Kind of Blue. I slow-groove
in my skin, eat, sip, read, pretend to be
no self, egoless, my thoughts their thoughts
sliding off me—
if they could see me but they
can’t. Not even the hovering couple,
wine glasses huddled at their chests,
eyeing the empty chair at my table.

Theory of Evolution

Crocodile. Goat. Rearing horse. Snarling wild canine. Cave paintings in a shower. Lascaux, France at 4280 Peach Way, Boulder, Colorado. Inside these dark, travertine walls, she feels Paleolithic, priestly, behaviorally and anatomically modern. What man, even one on a Paleo diet, could fit in here, too, she wonders, shaving her bristly legs, her bush. Homo habilis, erectus, neanderthalis, sapiens—so many cavemen, so few epochs, and, hot damn, they walked upright, striding longer and longer, traveling from habitat to habitat, spine curved for the shock of terroir underfoot. Had she been the artist, she would’ve drawn not mammals and mythical creatures, not geometries of symbols and a bird-headed man with an erect phallus, but cypress and magnolias, ferns and scouring rush, though she still would’ve blown pulverized pigments of red, brown, and straw yellow down a tube made of wood, reed, or bone. Had she been the artist, she would’ve told not a story but the roundabout foragings of her cavewoman soul, every nut, seed, and berry that said, I’m here, ready to feed your grunting heart. But she’s not an artist, not a prehistoric female stenciling her hands on limestone walls, not a Venus inspiring buxom statuettes. She’s not stone-aged, but middle-aged in twenty-first–century America, an untraceable kind of extinction. The shower’s spray of water has gotten colder. Oh, to be a fossil. Preserved in ice. Or stone. Amber. Alone.

*Inspired by Bruce Holland Rogers’ “Renaissance,” structured via the Fibonacci sequence, which is created by adding the last two numbers in the sequence to get the next number: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and so on. The sentences have these word counts in succession: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, (reversed) 34, 21, 13, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1.

Visible from Space
40.0274° N, 105.2519° W
09 NOV 2012, 19:14

We come here every November, two weeks before Thanksgiving,
for free beer, wine, limp shrimp, frosted carrot sheet cake, and
carols by the New Wizard Oil Combination, an all-male
a cappella group, all gray or balding. Enter the Christmas Wonderland
Open House at Fruehauf’s, two acres—88,000 square feet!—of high-
end patio furniture and home-and-garden stuff. A couple of years,
at least, it takes to stop head-jerking at all the food in every room,
immaculate in resin to sell designer plastic tableware. This year, my fifth,
I’ll finger-graze only the pitchy wish of coffee in a diner mug,
not the shish kabobs or sushi rolls, not the waffle a la mode,
though I will touch every one of the two-hundred-plus Christmas trees,
ornamentally themed: Betty Boop, Snoopy, cowboy boots, cats.
’Tis the season of good will to men, but the only good men
here—by which I mean the few who pay attention—
are the employees, decked in turtlenecks and tweed blazers,
greeting me at the entrance, at the register, at the makeshift bar
on a barbecue grill island in the Dream Backyard showroom.
These men and the men before them have served Boulder for thirty-
plus years. They are Mr. Fruehauf’s sons and the friends of his sons.
They are milquetoasts, deceptively edible like the deviled
eggs in the East Greenhouse. Their kind eyes make me believe
they love and live to sell ceramic gnomes, plastic flamingos, candles
that won’t blow out in the wind. No doubt
this blinking, blazing dream of a holiday bash
will show up in a satellite image, or at least on Google Maps
Street View. No doubt this man handing me, as I leave,
an all-natural handmade lollipop swirling like a nautilus shell
means it when he says, Happy holidays. Come back soon.