Walleah Press

Famous Reporter 41 : June 2010



Famous Reporter 41




Invincible Summer

In the depths of winter I finally learned there was
an invincible summer.
— Albert Camus

Our laughter was as brittle as the icicles
the children licked, the edge
of your humour an ironic lance— told
through the open window of the station wagon,
to the clamour of the carpool.
Don’t you hit him with that!

We balanced our phones while chopping
onions, you mocking
your famous in-laws, their crowd
of country club lushes, yet as your husband’s
income climbed he joined a wine club and you
joined your mother-in-law at the spa,
imitating her dry tone
when she found her teenaged son
at the mirror dressed in her cocktail gown.
Try the champagne stilettos, dear, they
go better with that frock.

Just as coolly, you reported on the tempest
of your marriage while you picked
last night’s spinach soufflé off the chandelier.
Most of the wedding gift crockery
was smashed by then. But you had a scheme,
confessed to me while he was away on business.
A new baby would fix things.
Greeting him in the satin negligee bought
for the purpose. He had other news.

You stuffed his ties into a paper sack
and shouted him out the door.
That’s when your smoky voice grew slurred.
You stopped answering the phone.

A month or maybe longer before I heard about the diagnosis,
how when the doctor said, Cancer, you thought
Now maybe he’ll love me.

But he was settled then with his new woman and even the children
preferred his place when you returned from surgery
to the dark nights of chemo.
Like a veteran of an unspeakable war, you never
revealed the particulars.

And I never thought to thank you, Val— for the gentling
of your smile, the legacy of tears, how they
eased the muscles around your eyes.

Your children returned to nuzzle close like spring calves.
We lounged in your garden that first warm day when
the azaleas were in bloom. The sun found your face,
daubed it with gold.

Laura Jan Shore, author of historical novel, The Sacred Moon Tree, and poetry collection, Breathworks, is President of Dangerously Poetic Press. Her poems have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in Australia, USA, Italy and New Zealand. Co- editor of 8 poetry books, she has taught poetry and creative writing for 25 years both on the North Coast OF N.S.W. and in the U.S.