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Daniel James Sundahl

Monologue of the Last Performing Tattooed Lady


Turned to the north again this summer,

Roads up-spooling across the Dakotas,

Wheat going yellow above the dark soil,

Redwings talking openly above the cat-tails.


My daughter writes about her child,

Sewing dresses for her dolls, reading books,

In April finding a lost dog.

She has re-decorated the front room,


Describing for me the new south window,

The warm yellow curtains, the flower-box,

A personal grievance with the paper-hanger.

A year, or another year, the child will forget.


Are you happy?  she writes.  Are you tired?

Where will you live.  I'll say a rosary.

The scene replays:  tricycles, blue-eyed dolls;

Life, a comedy salted with despair.


I remember laundry hanging on the lines to dry,

Her husband on a ladder by the tree,

Rope and hands making a swing,

The child crying when I held her.


Today it was dark for awhile, the air

A clear bluish-green before the noon rain.

Tonight there is sheet lightning to the west,

Sudden like the moments memory gives us.


The penguin-boy, his hands above his forearms,

Sits on the ground by the truck.

His brain bulges against his forehead.

I button his mildewed yellow shirt.


Men who are boys walk the midway,

Searching for a spirit to bring them luck.

Two mothers pass with their children;

They touch their throats and cough.


A priest stops and closes his eyes.

A voice speaks his name;  he listens 

To a tale told by a blooming rose,

Repeats a prayer out loud to no one.


In the grandstand, the fireworks begin.

In the show-barns, the animals groan.

The penguin-boy springs to his feet,

Laughing at the strangeness of our lives.

tiffany jolowicz Monday on Michigan Island, Yesterday, the Day Before, Two Thousand Years
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