Prose Poem Prolix III (Love Museum)byJCSTREET©
HARRY TRUEMAN’S LOVE MUSEUM
Good afternoon and
welcome to the museum have you
look tired. Come in and rest awhile and
let me tell you about the museum.
You have long hair.
These are the boxes and the envelopes, the
stamps are over there . . .no
. . . over there in the top right
drawer of the dark-stained
In those I meant to wrap, bale
box and ship the
pieces of her
back to wherever.
I don’t know where she is and, anyway,
I never got around to doing the wrapping.
I didn’t have Christmas paper, it’s
always the way isn’t it?
Would you like some coffee? Sit down!
That’s Paisley print you’re wearing, isn’t it?. . . dark blue and maroon?
Reminds me of Jamaica.
What do you take in it? This is
a George III hallmark and
the cream is fresh.
This is the study . . . over here, that
book is Wright and Linden’s cases, notes and materials
on Canadian Tort Law. It’s
well-thumbed, isn’t it?
Meeting of the minds
She carried that to Ottawa every morning until her fingerprints
sweated into the fabric, sometimes
at Friday night beer bashes she left it
sitting on the radiator, got her
lover of the evening to
to drive back next morning and
pick it up.
It’s also maroon
matches your dress, where
did you find wheat to color your hair, maybe
its this late afternoon
copper light that does it.
There are letters over there. Note the fine hand. . .
that wind into the heart
like fossiled droppings, she
has a way with her “C”, yet her mother
never liked her penmanship.
The paper is bond—unfinished
She picked this chair up at an auction in Portland . . . you know,
down on the Big Rideau . . . said it
matched the desk you
can still see her round softness in it.
She would read there until the news
The patina you see is
many layers old
uncover our trysts.
The light falls well on you. Try the chair, it
fits very well, doesn’t it?
There really isn’t much to see in the study, actually, I
don’t know why I bought you in, but
I thought you should know something
of her accomplishments, she
wasn’t young when she sat here, she’ll
probably be Chief Justice one day, she
articled with one.
It pays very well, you know they
only earn six
articling outside, but
or the Court.
I see by your briefcase that you are
a lady of some accomplishment yourself. Cognac?
It’s Courvoisier Napoleon, by way of
couldn’t buy it here . . . no . . .
I’m not drinking, but maybe later.
This is the kitchen, she
didn’t really come in here much except
to feed the dog and cat the
dog was a fat old thing, it
used to huff and puff and
lie on my feet while I slept.
I didn’t really mind it but I
was never really comfy either
The cat was more discreet . . . Samara, Samara
was black and used the back of a love seat
as a scratch pad.
It wrote haikus while we slept . . . you laugh . . . ?
When she was shrill the
cat ignored her, but
when I said
raising my voice, it
got down from whatever
illicit point of vantage
She pottered here sometimes—insisted on drinking
no-name instant coffee
instead of freeze-dried, Jose Ferrer’s
had little affect in the matter.
It was curious really because
the extra cost was
only equivalent to about
one Scotch a month and she
drank several more than that.
She was rarely tipsy, though. When she was she
became somewhat strident, accused me
of not being sympathetic to the rights
She suggested that, as a journalist—that’s before I got into the museum business— . . . pardon . . . well, it’s a living . . . I mean it pays the rent but it’s no Hell, if you know what I mean.
More coffee. . . you
have eyes like a raven, and
Where do you come from?
We ate out mostly . . . that’s why
you don’t see much in the kitchen.
This is the living room you’ve
already seen the sofa and
the TV set with
a poster of Peter Jennings on the screen we were
That black fur rug is hers, she
had a fantasy about black
fur rugs but
I don’t know whether she had
Why did she leave? That’s not really part of the tour. . . it’s not really . . . . .
This is the bathroom, that’s
her purple negligee on the back of the door she
didn’t wear it much, it was
just a spare, it
always reminded me of a Tennessee Williams play
she looked very southern in it, with
one breast always falling loose and
the hem of it
just above her white knees.
She had very white skin but it freckled in summer.
Her body was young . . . a willow tree
supporting a much older face . . . very whitish hair falling
down equally on all sides—a waterfall—and
big owlish glasses that she
kept adjusting although they always fell back
into the same position, she
looked good in a negligee, when
she was cold I would
take my robe and
put it round her shoulders or
wrap her in a Hudson’s Bay blanket
while she watched the news.
More cognac? Yes, it does taste good, doesn’t it. I think I’ll change my mind.
The Oil of Olay is a small travel bottle she left she
used to put it on her face, I
don’t know why her face was wrinkled her
body was smooth, it was
as though she had spent time in the desert, I
suppose she had, in a way, before she went back to school, I
suggested she wear a tee-shirt saying:
FACE BY BABY, BODY
BY MOTHER THERESA
That was Shawn’s idea—going back to school, not
really his idea, but
he encouraged it though
it meant the end of the affair.
She just outgrew it really, although she
continued to see him when he
came to Ottawa he was
president of some ad agency, that’s
sort of a public relations job you
have to go and pitch
all the big accounts they
don’t feel important if the president doesn’t
He used to drive up in his car and take her to bed in the downtown Holiday Inn.
No, not after we met. . . not as far as I knew, but
she still saw him for dinner.
She had this theory though that
if a man takes you to dinner you
have to invite him home for a drink and then
you can’t go to another engagement later.
I eventually disabused her of it, but she had stopped going to dinner by then; so the point was moot.
She used to say Shawn would be upset if she
asked him to drop her off at my place, I
told her where I thought he could take his “upset” . . . oh,
I’m sorry. . .
I didn’t mean to lose my temper, that’s
not her shower curtain, she
was going to buy one when I moved to this apartment
but we had a fight that Friday night so
I went out and bought one on my own.
She was going to buy a vibing shower head too, but
we never got around to that we
were going to do a lot of things actually.
Yes, I think there’s some more left in the bottle. You seem warm.
Let me take that shawl, the
sun looks good, doesn’t it . . . impaled on the cross of the church that’s
one reason I moved here.
She lived with her mother, I used to wonder
what her mother thought when she brought Shawn home . . . what
she thought of his wife, or
embarrassed to see her mother after Shawn because
I thought it would confuse her.
They had gone out for twelve years before they broke up. I guess he was her first, or close to it. . . anyway
I don’t know if she went back to him she
always kept her options open she
was very territorial.
When I visited and her phone rang she would
shut herself in the bedroom and say:
“It’s my house. It’s none of your business,” not
This late sun suits you: fires the tips of your hair
as it floods over your shoulders, take
your shoes off
if your feet are sore, surely
that fleeting icicle above your
doesn’t mean you’re wearing a garter belt, she
left one in the bedroom . . . but
we’ll get to that later.
Those boxes on the étagère are Shawn’s he
gave them to her for her collection, he
used to take her to ball games too, she
said she liked the tight uniforms . . . Why?
do your eyes follow me when I pace the room its
the only exercise I get there’s
no time to go out I
tend the collection we
can’t have Miss Haversham-like cobwebs about the place
It’s got to be kept up.
That . . . that’s a strand of her hair, it’s
very coarse isn’t it yet
very smooth I
know that’s a contradiction but
don’t forget I
spent a lot of time sleeping with my face in it so
it becomes a subtle thing.
Hmm . . . not that much time actually . . .
because her mother didn’t like her staying out all night.
She was only 27 at the time.
Oh, but that’s history. What does it bloody well matter.
More cognac? I’m
beginning to feel a glow from it, sorry
sorry about my language.
I think she’s gone to Bermuda to be Solicitor-General. Memory fades I
don’t get the newspapers much any more, ironic,
since I used to see my byline in them all the time but
that’s artificial isn’t it I mean,
you can’t go through life being a byline . . . being
a smudged line of 12-point boldface.
There’s got to be more than that.
This is the bedroom, I
always leave this until the last ‘cause
sometimes people on the tour get tired
and have to lie down for a while.
The bed is just the way she left it . . . blankets
thrown off the foot
sheets rumpled . . .
signs of a struggle, we
experimented a great deal.
I sleep over here on the couch the
clothes you see are mostly hers . . . a few sweaters
. . . stockings . . . a garter belt.
She never used to let me come
into lingerie shops with her I
told her everyone else’s lovers did but
she wouldn’t change her mind.
They’re very rare. But, they had an article in the Globe and Mail that said they were coming back.
You’re wearing one?
Can I hang this dress up for you you
don’t want it to get wrinkled.
Your legs are very long.
Over the back of the chair if you like.
You’re going to be cold, though.
That’s better. You look good in purple Funny how one breast always falls free. I find her body in the strangest places.
Yes, the cognac was good, wasn’t it--your
hair feels like a raven’s wing . . . her
name . . . you know I
don’t really remember it I
don’t think I ever asked her.