Reading “Vol de Nuit”
Vol de Nuit
“This is your captain speaking” I hear as I look around my seat and curiously push the dimly lit buttons with the diagrams on them of what I may want to do for the next 10 hours.
I love the deep voice of the captain especially when he’s British: so reassuring and yet sexy as if any minute he’s going to offer me a cocktail and anything else I might want.
“Ladies and gentlemen” he says “our flight will go over Newfoundland tonight. We expect no delay in our landing at London Heathrow and it is our hope that you will enjoy your flight asleep or awake.Thank you for flying with us.”
I am longing to hear that captain’s voice again.
I want to be in the capsule of transportation.
I want a lady with make up on and coiffed hair to offer me a blanket and a billet-doux.
I long to be taken across the Atlantic, flying high through the clouds while someone else is in charge.
Maybe I’ll fly to Charles de Gaulle and exit through one of the tube escalators up and escalator down into the customs area where I will be met by a chauffeur who will take me to a five-star Hotel in Paris where I will acquire several new outfits and a chauffeur.
At night when I can’t sleep I think of all those opportunities. My daughter kept saying to me, “Mom!Go live in France for a while. They’ll understand you there.”
I know it’s too late and that’s OK but I still love to imagine the sound of that voice “Good evening ladies and gentlemen!Welcome to flight 27 from San Francisco to wherever your heart desires.”
I am wearing my travel clothes so I will look perfectly chic when we land.
I’ve been wearing them for five months.
I’ll never stop dreaming just as I’ve never stopped breathing so if I never stop breathing I can’t guarantee I won’t in-jest something that could easily kill me.
So that’s why I’m happy I’m a good imaginer.
I always travel light and rarely breathe.
I hate Italian families.
When you see them in a group they’re always laughing and eating,
kissing and hugging and touching each other as if they really mean
it and they don’t mind being close.
Don’t they know that they’re not supposed to behave like that?
In the best of WASP families you never touch anything but a cheek
with another cheek.
You have children but they leave the house
To a WASP there can be no answer as
nothing is written down.
It turns out your family will never resemble an Italian family.
Wasps require large houses because everyone needs a greater than normal
amount of space in which to sequester themselves from their
So if they can afford it they move into mansions and most of the
rooms are left empty.
Certainly on holidays there is one long table but it’s like
Covid before Covid.
I’m trying to learn how to be Italian.
I’m a genetic aberration.
I used to have a friend in the mafia who definitely was Italian.
He used to take me to dinner at the Italian club and during the meal
the table would shimmer and shake according to who was shooting what
weapon at the gun range on the floor below.
Having dinner with Vincent made me feel weirdly protected but
apprehensive . Like having indigestion before you even thought
about eating. I asked him to adopt me but that wasn’t what he had
I found out a year ago that Vincent had died. I hate that.
People that you keep thinking of for years
and years and then suddenly you hear that you shouldn’t
have been thinking about them because
they were dead.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we bury the upper crust!”
Motto from a WASP funeral company
I feel lust when It should be dust
I feel lust when I should feel like dust,
too much testosterone according to my
Geriatrician. I can’t help myself.
Fireman make my mouth water.
I put on rubber gloves,
a mask, a lab coat, and go to Brice’s house for
a drink last Friday
(we’ve been slow dancing electronically).
Like all women I want to talk
before sex and be a little drunk and be
kissed with intention to
paralyze but only for seven minutes or I get
I just decide I am ready to tell him because
now I am bored with this dance after 50 years,
too many partners to remember identifying marks
Listen, I say, here’s what I want.
I look at him in his old Patagonia, ripped at the hem and spotted,
hair half brown half gray stuffed under a Patriots cap,
face unshaven, nylon turtleneck blued into gray, open mouth
revealing years of ground out rage and he’s thinking,
What the hell now? So I
say I want to have dinner with someone every night.
I want a body in the bed next to me that doesn’t move or make
I want someone to have my back.
I want you to figure out what we are going to do about dinner.
I want the smell of soap and skin and silk and the feel of hips and maybe
a gun in the house,
a stick shift car and a big dog, Trivial Pursuit 80’s version,
I want you to figure out what I want and then give it to me when I want it not when you do and I want
And then he says I don’t want to have dinner every night.
Survival instructions when you are the last human left
crumble twigs on bare floor before waking and walking.
Freeze some flowers the night before then
turn a rose inside out and label the petals
in order to remember what they said.
If you find a coyote in your house ask
what she needs from outside and tell the
hairless goat to stay in the closet for a while.
There might be a vulture on your roof so
watch it when you go out.
(Nothing by mouth
not even cacti)
If Georgia O’Keefe steps through a window
don’t act surprised or needy just have a
conversation about stillness or sex or tools.
The world will be pale but don’t be enticed to
touch the green as then it, too, will die.
It is your job to keep noting:
Just sit. Not wait.
I feel like we’re playing musical chairs in the world.
I am not good at that game.
Where can we go?
What can we do?
Where is it safe?
When I was a kid people used to scream
at me because I would never leave my chair.
If I did it was to slither
over to the next chair
before the music even thought about stopping.
In my house there are many chairs.
There are many photos.
I like to stop
and sit on the chair that looks directly into the photo
of my family surrounding me.
That’s all I see
That’s all I pray for.
When you, that at this moment are to me
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
When you, that at this moment are to me
Dearer than words on paper, shall depart,
And be no more the warder of my heart,
Whereof again myself shall hold the key;
And be no more—what now you seem to be—
The sun, from which all excellences start
In a round nimbus, nor a broken dart
Of moonlight, even, splintered on the sea;
I shall remember only of this hour—
And weep somewhat, as now you see me weep—
The pathos of your love, that, like a flower,
Fearful of death yet amorous of sleep,
Droops for a moment and beholds, dismayed,
The wind whereon its petals shall be laid.