The recreation room is off the hallway to the dining room,
and there is always someone standing around waiting, looking at their
wrists and praying the piano to play. It answers through broken teeth
painted green and yellow with a sponge. A dilapidated table for jigsaw
puzzles and a few grade school desks for Bingo. I'm afraid to wear my hair
to the park, though, Reggie says to Ada. She is always second in
line--after her baby sister. Ada always puts Ariel first, as she did her
father, as she would have done her mother. A silent argument precedes
everything Reggie says. His manners are five years old. He is bald. A soft
smile breaks beneath a flocculant Paul Cezanne of uneven length. Reggie
shaves a different portion every day--an esoteric calendar. He doesn't
know why, but every morning he looks in the mirror, picks up the razor,
and whacks somewhere out of habit. Then he tries to find the right wig for
painting in the closet. His peculiar genius is crosses.Reggie
paints in the dark because he doesn't know how to change a light bulb.
A pair of panty hose is tied
to the doorknob. The door swings open and Reggie pushes it back with his
foot. The hose stretches tight and pulls the door open again. Saves a lot
of steps. He's thinking about selling the idea to the airport. My psychic
nears. She tells me I was an ex-patriot painter living in Paris. It has
something to do with chickens. I reach out a hand. From the corner a
third hand is rising. Another pair of beautiful eyes to match the first.
My hand drops, but the first blue eyes retrieve it and the three of us
stand holding hands, wondering who I am. Modigliani was from Livorno, and
Livorno means Leghorn. He was an ex-patriot artist like myself. If
Leghorns are chickens, I am Modigliani reborn with a twist. My headache
considers James Joyce its brother. She is asking if I've been unfaithful.
I met another man on the lot, she says. I hope he drives; you're far too
pretty to crawl. In the bathtub Dudley's feet form Marilyn Monroe with a
spigot between her breasts.