Lady CastleLight: Encounter At North Hall, Early Autumn Weekend, 1976

[after georgeschaefer's poem, "Local Corner Bar"]

 

"Nulla tuarum audita mihi neque visa sororum—
O quam te memorem, virgo? Namque haud tibi voltus
mortalis, nec vox hominem sonat: O, dea certe . . .

 

sis felix, nostrumque leves, quaecumque, laborem,              
et, quo sub caelo tandem . . . ."

---Vergil, The Aeneid, I

 

I remember watching her walk through
the northward corridor of our dormitory,
where my room, one-twenty, was located
next to the steel and glass doubledoors
which remained unlocked during daylight hours
(the nightly locking did not provide much deterrence).
An autumn Sunday's afternoon;
most of my neighbors were quiet, busy sleeping off hangovers.

She and I were both freshmen, but in no way the same.
I distinctly recall: her purple polo shirt;
those faded, denim bell-bottoms---the frayed cuffs of which
did not quite conceal her deeply dark blue socks
which were, conspicuously enough (for my glimpses), shoeless.
The tiled floor on which she stood had been freshly scrubbed,
by the custodian---early Sunday morning, overtime---
where lately late Saturday night's spewed vomit had landed.

 

"Nice socks," I said sincerely---the usual greeting
(often ignored when spoken by those designated undesirable);
but always the campus-wide recognition,
almost obligatory and always sensible,
of an unshod, beautiful woman.
She said, to my surprise to be thus acknowledged,
"I walked here barefoot, but put my socks on outside on the porch;
"I know what soils these floors mostly after weekend midnights."

 

Assuming the guise and authority of a Muse,
she said "They call you Starwatcher: is that right?"
I nodded. She continued: "You feel disconnected
"from c.b. channel twenty two, some forty miles southwest,
"because your parents locked up your radio,
"so that you could not bring it; and you have no base station."
I blushed for shame: "Both are equally true," I admitted.
"Shall we sit outside on the backsteps?" she asked.
I followed her there, Then she said, "My name is Cassie---
"Lady CastleLight on c.b. channel twelve,
"far northeast of here in east of Cleveland---
"not a great place for us ratchetjaws, due to a wealth of prejudice.
"You must like my socks a lot; your eyes are very honest
"and your gaze is very direct---if I may say so."
I nodded, even more embarrassed; my throat seemed suddenly dry.
She smiled warmly, and shifted slightly
so that her socks were more directly in my line of site.
"Most men like you are poets or artists,
she explained, "and they do not reduce a woman
"to mere boobs or butts. They do not bring lust
"to a woman's feet, but something more akin
"to licit adoration. While you are here,
"and silenced by those forty miles southwest,
"surround yourself with the books and voices
"of any poets who seem to speak to you.
"And, for the epic of which you dream so much,
"consider, rather, an elegant epyllion---
"some Hellenist poets deemed it to be the right format.
"Let the poets, whose poems you choose to read this term,
"speak to you when you are feeling most distant
"from channel twenty-two in Dayton.
"And seven weeks from now you will be on your way
"home for extended Christmas Break,
"and nights of megaherz conversation with your extended family.
She paused for a moment, then said, "I have to go.
"I really enjoyed our talk." Then, with all the grace
of a dancer, she pulled her socks off and handed them to me.
"These are for you, to help you to remember all this."
I pressed them to my nose and mouth, and inhaled deeply;
no odor of puke but only the delicate sweat
of her feminine and feshly-showered foot-scent,
with just a hint of the grass stain
her bare soles had acquired earlier.
And then I watched her walk away,
slowly and almost reluctantly,
until I could see her no more

in the distance and bright sunlight.

 

ENVOI:

 

No longer Starwartcher, now I am
more aptly Starward,
and the metaphor of this vision,
which has not lessened at all.

 

Starward

Author's Notes/Comments: 

The last two lines of the poem, prior to the envoi, are a parody of the last lines of Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein.

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