Matthew Flaming The 2River View, 10.1 (2005)

Four CoupletsListen


Walking through the quiet Polish neighborhood in
Brooklyn, alone on a warm evening near the
beginning of that summer, he saw a little girl dancing
by herself to the sound of a tinny polka playing on the
glowing cellphone that she clutched in her upraised,
twirling hand. It was, he’d thought then, the most
modern thing he’d ever seen.


Over the course of eleven years they’d traded a vast
assortment of unthinking nods, smiles and
inclinations of the head in the hallways of the building
where they both worked, but had spoken less than a
dozen words; it took her a month to notice that he
was gone. On the day that she did, Shellie bought two
bottles of wine and drank them both, alone at home
that night, and thought about all the places she’d
never traveled to, and cried.


My friend dreamed that his job was to go to various
sporting events, dressed in a cow costume, and dance
for the crowd. In this dream, he told me, my friend
felt a satisfying sense of pity for another man, who
was also dancing in a cow costume, because my
friend’s costume was new and expensive, with a large
shiny udder, while the other man’s suit was old and
decrepit and slightly threadbare.


On the 10th floor of the skyscraper, sitting in the
lobby of the auction house where she was about to
sell the last of the family jewels, the young woman
looked out a window and saw a man in coveralls, on
the roof of a neighboring building, lowering a flag
from its pole. As he unfastened the flag from the rope
a sudden gust of wind took hold of the fabric and
wrenched it from his hands, carrying it up over the
street: a brief, bright bird.

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