The Potomac - Charles Rammelkamp
July 2007 - THE POTOMAC

Carved Out of Airwaves
   Charles Rammelkamp

"Only after you realize sex
is essentially unremarkable
can you come to terms with infidelity."
Marla's a woman who goes for a
shirt-sleeves-pushed-up-over-the-elbows look,
at once casual but in control,
long legs sheathed in nylon,
lethal as stilettos.
"Well, that's one way of looking at it.
But it seems we spend our whole lives
trying to picture what other people look like
without their clothing on."
Gregory, on the other hand, goes
for that torn blue jeans,
run-down sneakers look,
the overgrown adolescent.
Or at least this is how
I imagine them,
listening to a talkshow
driving home from work.
Their voices carve images
out of air, solid as marble,
smooth as burnished gold.
"We really ought to revise the Ten Commandments,
re-examine them, throw out the ones
that are no longer relevant.
Let's not pretend things don't change."
Her hand points to heaven, a single finger
taking aim. She could be wearing wings.
"What would you toss out?
The taboos of our ancestors
remain potent today,"
Sententious as a politician, chest thrust out,
Greg's hands tug the lapels of his frockcoat.

Denial By Any Other Name

"I hope you weren't
offended or annoyed
when I mentioned
your mother's incontinence,"
I apologized to my sister-in-law.
"It just sort of slipped out."
Clela and I had never gotten along.
I hoped I hadn't sounded
like I was making fun of her.

Tacitly forgiving
my indiscretion at the party,
Heather denied she was
offended or annoyed,
only wanted to protect
her mother's privacy,
though the way she avoided me
the rest of the evening
told me she was upset.

That was when it struck me
emotions don't come with words,
like crackers with brand names,
medicines with labels.

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