18th-century depiction of Odysseus and Calypso by Angelica Kauffman
Tell Them You Invited Me
Inside the refrigerator box, his voice
smells human. Hard to come by, he says.
I lie down, beside him, to show my sympathy.
He pulls away. This refrigerator had a spigot
for cold water and ice whenever you wanted it.
Whoever. Wherever. We play house.
I open my mouth wide to unveil the house
within, the roof over words, the voice’s
river, the tongue’s root, gnashing teeth. It,
haven to the last sigh of the first cry. He says
his is a cave of cavities and spigot
to his phlegm. He rejects my sympathy,
pithy words that siphon off the little sympathy
he harbors for me. He will visit my house.
It is far, but he channels Odysseus, the spigot
story teller of men coming home. Voices
flow through my here to everywhere, he says.
I offer him a ride. Like everything, he refuses it.
On scrap, I scribble my address. He hands it
back to me. I remember all. I send sympathy
cards to the bereaved. I put money away, he says,
I’m a lot like you. Weeks pass. I wait at my house
for him. You probably think I hear voices,
that I am lost at sea with a drip drop spigot
leak of good sense, that I forgot
how dangerous people can be; this is it,
my courtship finale. The coldest day, voices
serenade the door; he expresses sympathy
for the policeman who doubts that my house
is his destination. To me, he says,
tell them you invited me, he says,
he is the trouble I thirst for. Many a spigot
he fixed; he knows the bones of my house.
Wrap my arms around him so it
looks as if we fathom a sympathy-
infused embrace. That our voices
are one voice plus their voices. He says
tell them I am not afraid. I just forgot,
in antiquity, to give him the key to the house.
Margaret Campbell of Easton, PA has a BA in French from Muhlenberg College and an MA in Comparative Literature from NYU. In 1995, she edited Family: A Celebration, a collection of essays, poems, and short stories about contemporary and non-traditional families with photographs by Joan Beard. Since 2003, she worked with artists on installations at Lafayette College, Northampton Community College, and galleries in Long Island City: “Physical Sentences: James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Samuel Beckett,” “Housedress: the Sheltering Dream,” “Reading the Shared Hallucination,” “I Stand Here Ironing: Homage to Tillie Olsen,” and “Linguaduct: Diagrammed Sentences from Here is New York.” The Journal of the American Medical Association published “Still Life Within the Painter’s Heart,” “Hands,” and “The Dust Bowl of My Elbow.” Fox Chase Review featured eight Abstract Poems and the American Journal of Nursing published “The Vessel of a Nurse’s Voice.” Lehigh Valley Vanguard featured numerous poems.