Dinah Shore was hardly a throb; but a gift,
two comps to her show, cast frames of reference
for the date I recollect with Ruth—
an instant crush as arm to arm we clapped
each time the prompter blinked Applause,
cheek to cheek we chortled when it flipped
to Laugh—then became ourselves again at Quiet Please.
In my car afterward, the make-up and the brilliance
of the sets jumped-cut our silences.
We stopped at an Italian place off Sunset—
the image values (checked tablecloth, bud vase,
solo candle) perhaps explain why I recall
resemblances to Frances Rose—a face
haloed in blondish hair blazed with russet,
the candor of a country girl
beckoning amid vaults of maize—and able to elicit
secrets I never admit. I teased
from her that she’d grown up back East—
or does the vision mixer of the head connive
to cross disparate myths I collect,
altering history to script? The Soave
(floral tones, forbidden fruit) also took effect—
when she dipped a morsel of the sourdough
into balsamic, I looked down her dress, the bows,
buttons in fashion then, and thought Mulholland Drive—
but she patted my hand (hint of brothers, retribution)
so we took my Chevy to the ocean.
Santa Monica Pier: hips a-brush, eyes to the sea,
gleaning fractured waves of neon light.
In the Rotor, we stood at opposite pads
of the barrel and when it spun, the floor dropping free,
I was on my back and high above, against the blue felt,
a fiery wingspan of hair, my dyna-Ruth klieg-lit
and distant. Our one date fades
to an end-of-show kiss. So many dots have slipped
from memory, save these outtakes of sleep.
Michael Sandler has other new work appearing in Moment Magazine, The Griffin, The Chaffin Journal, Diverse Voices Quarterly, California Quarterly, Ducts, Natural Bridge, and Ship of Fools. He also works as an arbitrator in Mercer Island, Washington.