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This poem by Hannah Gamble was originally published in issue 21 of jubilat and appeared Friday, 9/28, on Verse Daily. Hannah is the author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast, selected by Bernadette Mayer for the 2011 National Poetry Series and to be published by Fence later this year. Her poems and interviews appear or are forthcoming in APR, The Laurel Review, Indiana Review, and Ectone, among others.

Somewhere Golden 

One woman said
Clean yourself up

with a cocktail napkin, so here I am
in the bathroom.
Sounds of the party.
Sounds of one man
pretending he gets the joke.
Oh, he gets the joke.
He Just didn’t think
it was very funny.
I can understand that man.
The bones of Tom’s hands
made a fist
and told my nose
a joke, which is to say he
hit me. The resulting laughter
was quiet, but
well-sustained. People decorate
their bathrooms
like I would rather be at the beach
than in this bathroom.
I’d rather be watching swans
mate for life. Well,
not actually mating.
Okay, actually mating;
you can hardly tell
what’s going on. Unlike
pornography, or unlike
a wedding ceremony. Or, no.
The wedding ceremony is more
like swans. I thought
I was just watching two people
hold hands
in front of a candle.
The people deciding
to wear flowers in the winter,
disrespectful of what the world,
bigger than us, said we could wear
or eat, like the asparagus hors d’oeuvres
insisted it was a good time
to feel like it was summer.
At the wedding I was quiet.
At the party I was quiet
until Tom found me
offensive. The homeowners
long ago had decided
I’d rather be somewhere golden
than in this bathroom.
Outside the sounds
of people making promises,
or rather, hushing a room
to condone the most public
of promises made
in front of a candle.
When I’m cleaned up
I’ll find, if he was invited,
the man who played the organ,
or the priest who wears soft shoes
so he doesn’t disturb the holy
spirits
resting in the rafters
when he walks through
t
he resting cathedral,
stooping at times
to pick up flowers.

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