Jeanne-Marie Osterman

The Resurrection, 2009. Photomontage / Self Portrait. Liz Huston.

BIKINI EXPRESS 

 

When I visit my father he always says,

Let’s go to Bob’s and get a senior burger,

and on the way there we always pass

the bikini espresso shack where

the barista, always in nothing but a thong,

is working her big silver Cimbali—

banging used grounds from the filters,

wiping milk foam off the rods.

My father always tells me to slow down 

so he can get a look at the barista

and I’m always surprised he doesn’t mind

my knowing he wants to see.

Once we pass, he always tells me

what lane to get into, to swing wide

to avoid hitting the curb, and park

in the handicapped because, as always,

he didn’t bring his cane.

When our burgers arrive,

he always tells me the story of Hot Cups,

the bikini shack that blew up.

It was a cold January morning.

The near-naked barista was firing up 

the space heater that kept her tiny kiosk warm.

There was a flash.

The shack burst into flames.

The barista jumped out the window

but she didn’t get out with her life.

Single mom, two kids—

that shack was going to be her salvation,

the obituary said.

You never know about a person,

my father always says at the end of the story.

We finish our senior burgers,

figure the tip,

get back on the road.

 

 

 

 

 

THE LIVING WILL ALWAYS LEAVE YOU.

THE DEAD STAY WITH YOU FOREVER.

 

 

It’s harder than you’d think to die       

even for us mortals     

asking god      stopping meds      not eating    

not even losing the will to live        

always gets you there.   

Autologous systems know no better     

than to carry on       until they don’t.   

I’ve been asleep most of my life

walking naked through brambles    

gnawing mold off berries     remembering

Amazonian fishermen I saw in a film

who cradled their catch in their arms 

held it close to the breast       

humming a soft tune

until the fish died         

smiling as the fish tried to escape—

as gills grasped at air

unable to find oxygen.

My father has been dead six months.  

 

Even a popup blocker can’t stop

time-to-reorder notices

for Men’s Size M flannel pajamas,

a fresh pair of scuffs.

Have you forgotten something?