WHAT’S THE POINT
“What’s the point of your story?”
She asks you.
The point, you want to say: what’s the point of Tuesdays and Wednesdays
hanging like paper bags, big and floppy in front of us,
crinkling and crackling
and empty except where we choose to throw in
Oranges, violets, caviar and tomatoes
What is the point of the burgundy sofa the couple carries,
pulls from the flatbed into their first apartment.
What is the point of the bright and dark blue wails
that come from them at midnight, 1 a.m.
and part the waves of the Los Angeles night
with its collections of cars copying one another—
the same swishing motions and sounds.
What’s the point of this Saturday
that breaks open over your head
with its lantern sun
or its battered old sun.
What’s the point of it with
its joggers jiggling up
its streets, its grids,
its lines criss-crossing
palms and pines, jasmine, honeysuckle.
What’s the point of the song that played—
the background music, the base, the drum and the fiddle,
as he ran up and down under you
on that sofa, in that new apartment,
the streets, the cities running their blazing tracks beneath you.
What’s the point when later
dull flat lines run across the faces of houses and televisions in their tin can sounds
when the body blew out of sight
songs don’t play and
no more sofas rotate around and no
more Saturdays run streaking in their blue-black shorts,
up and down under streetlamps.
In the news clipping
they list all the things she did—
in and out of classrooms and libraries, town meetings, universities and cafes.
Meanwhile, the blue water of the television light
runs down and collects on the city’s apartment walls where people sit
oblivious to her motions and expressions,
the voice that arched painfully out of her.
As I walk up this street where nobody knows her or ever will,
a couple lunges into one another
as into something never-ending, a door that never closes.
And helicopters circle over the apartments,
which are stacked like old radios.
Here, where her departure makes no noise or impression
in the same way she made no impression on me
because I could only see her as an extension, a reflection,
some continuation of my thoughts and feelings,
someone I could load up with descriptions
that looked alive for awhile,
the way M’s face does—
blood pumping into it, words bunched up inside his cheeks,
eyes like flames everywhere at once, it seems—
an illusion of something burning far and long beyond itself.
Nicole Hoelle grew up on the east coast and has resided in California since 1994. Her essays, drama and poems have appeared in “Third Coast Magazine," "The Adirondack Review," "Gulf Coast," "New American Writing," "Gravel Magazine," "Barrow Street," "Jacket Magazine" and "Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review," among others. She teaches English at several colleges.