Ann Gottesman

Cover design by Oberon
Faerie Gold Press
Sebastopol , 2006
20 pp, Hand-sewn


  While she sat on the floor with ice cubes on either side of her ear in preparation for Pam to pierce it, Azure looked out the large window to see a man standing by the swimming pool with a fishing pole and net.
  “Who‚s that?” she said, blocking out the radio buzz from the next room.
  “Is he going to fish in your pool?”
  Pam, with her light complexion blending with her hair that was pulled back tightly in a bun, looked strange as she nodded and held back tears. Azure forgot how she had come to ask her in the first place to pierce her ears. Her knees cramped. She shifted her position as Pam whisking away a tear went to turn off the radio. Recently her boyfriend had drowned, died of a heart attack or had it been a broken heart, Azure wondered, folding her legs together again.
  “He‚s a poet,” Pam said returning to the job at hand. “Lives on Stonewood Lane in New York . Imagine having no number for an address, just a street name.”
  Suddenly Azure heard a loud pop and her ear stung. She heard poet and saw a rainbow around his head. Her ear bled.
  Watching Ernest slowly walk around the pool, his intense watchfulness of looking into the water as if following a shadow, took her thoughts away. He stopped abruptly, cast his line in the water, and then stood motionless like a statue in bright sunlight.
  Azure held the ice on the other ear, as she continued to watch him. He, then, began walking to the end of the diving board, pulling the dangling line gently through the water. Setting his pole under him, as he perched at the end of the board, he took a black book from his belt and started to write in it.
  “He‚s really special, isn‚t he?” Azure said.
  “Yeah. He‚s one of a kind. You know, Azure, he‚ll be in Paris when you are. Why don‚t you meet up with him?”
  “I couldn‚t,” she said dropping the ice. She looked over at Pam for help.
  “Honestly, Azure.”
  “I just can‚t, can I? Is he nice?”
  “Very.” Pam said.
  “But isn‚t he your boyfriend?”
  “No. But, he did introduce Adam to me. ” she sighed. “He‚s here for the funeral.”
  Azure‚s ear popped again.
  “Don‚t pay any attention to it. Ears always make that noise. Just remember to put alcohol on them twice a day,” Pam said more cheerfully.
  Azure nodded.
  “You‚ve never been in love?” Pam inquired.
  “Not really.”
  “I don‚t know. Besides sex isn‚t everything.”
  “Who‚s talking about sex? You know, Azure, you can‚t start, too soon, deciding for yourself.”
  “Ernest‚s a poet and you said he‚s nice,” she studied him again as he kept writing. “You can give him my address and if he wants, he can meet me in Paris on Bastille Day. How does that sound?”
  Before she could say another word, Pam hurried outside leaving Azure quivering with her yes, not feeling the ground under her would hold her, as if she were a fish out of water. She couldn‚t believe she said yes.
  As Ernest walked closer to the door, she saw he was a lot older, maybe even eight years older than she thought. She figured that meant he was through college, and possibly had a job. Those worldly accomplishments made her feel the world was too large and weighty for her delicate mind.
  The plate glass door slid open. Pam introduced them. All Azure could do was smile at him. He was like a dream come true. Ernest‚s soft gaze made her feel he was looking at a fish swim through water.
  “If you want me to meet you, Azure, in Paris , then send me your itinerary. I‚ll write you a poem back and I‚ll be there, Azure.” Then he turned, quickly made a note in his black book. On his way out, he whispered something to Pam. The door slid closed.
  Azure looking in the mirror at her new gold ball earrings and her pixy face, felt very young.
  “He thinks you‚re beautiful.”
  Azure smiled.


  The Paris subway‚s gray steps shifted under her feet. Her heart seemed to leave her body. Her hands sweat. She grabbed for the rail - cold, black. A sunless day, she floated through. Her breath short. She turned around to call for help but the wash of fast walking commuters swept over her. Someone knocked her to the ground. She hit her head.
  A large eagle, its giant talons wrapped around her waist and with its beak pulled off a piece of her flesh, swallowing it as it released her, letting her roll, falling to earth.
  He appeared above the subway steps, as she sat up dazed. The hazy sun halved around his mass of black hair.
  He said, “Here is a poem. Read it.”
  She read, “A ghost has no color in a pretty face in the tattered city tattoo.”
  He left saying he would return.
  That night, a French hotel room, decor in white, exaggerated doors, fussy but for the bidet in the room exposed like a marble Greek sculpture. She put her head on a tall pillow that wouldn‚t fluff down. When she closed her eyes to let sleep in, a dark shadow enveloped her, wanting her to go to another place. She tried to shake off the cold clammy feeling by rubbing her hands together. It would not leave her. Her body jerked and she felt as if she were walking on air.
  Then she got out of bed and began meandering around the room reciting his poem.
  “A ghost has no color in a pretty face in the tattered city tattoo.”
  Into a small dark green room next to hers, she walked as if going up the subway steps to meet him.