Karren LaLonde Alenier

Against the Wall

DC Places Issue
Volume 7:3, Summer 2006

Against the Wall

For Norma Jean, Marilyn or S

At Calvert and Connecticut
she watches.
All I remember is her face
larger than a window
flung open in spring
that face floating
above brick, mortar,
and cement. Her bleached
hair expands the white
of her eyes, eyes that steal
light from the passerby.
Rumor says she shared
lipstick with my mother
as they strolled arm in arm
down a runway lined
with impatient men,
each holding out his will.

At Calvert and Connecticut
she beckons, what will
you do, she whispers
with petulant lips. Mom,
I shout from a café where
drinking wine with a friend
I glimpse the beauty
pageant, of pliant skin
and curving body receding
down the avenue.
With a playful skip,
she remains a child,
that child, Arthur Miller says,
whose spirit we cannot chase,
best to rest in place and let her
return with love.

At Calvert and Connecticut
I’ll see her there,
up against that wall.


Karren LaLonde Alenier is author of seven collections of poetry, including Looking for Divine Transportation (The Bunny and the Crocodile Press, 1999), winner of the 2002 Towson University Prize for Literature, and The Anima of Paul Bowles (MadHat Press, 2016), selected as a 2016 top staff pick by the Grolier Book Shop in Boston. Her poetry and fiction have been published in the Mississippi Review, Jewish Currents, and Poet Lore. Her opera Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On, with composer William Banfield, premiered by Encompass New Opera Theatre under the direction of Nancy Rhodes in New York City June 2005. For Scene4 Magazine, she writes a monthly column about Gertrude Stein and the arts called “The Steiny Road to Operadom.” To read more by this author: Five poems, Volume 3:4, Fall 2002; Audio Issue, Volume 9:4, Fall 2008