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2001-06-26

Judy Garland (b. Frances Gumm)
B. 6.10.22 Grand Rapids, Michigan / D. 6.22.69 London
Drug Overdose

I am in a motorboat with no one I recognize, rushing at full speed out to sea. A captain-type is declaiming to the passengers at large about how few will ever have the nerve to sit up front—so dared, I move to the prow. We’re cutting at a 60° angle from shore into the blue-black Atlantic; heavy storm clouds nuzzle the horizon. Being jounced over waves through wind and spray with no land in sight is so exhilarating, I whoop. Suddenly I’m alone in a small rubber raft and decide it’s time to head back. When I turn the craft, Boston Harbor’s blue skyline appears unexpectedly tiny, etched against a stormy, slate-blue dusk. I’ll really have to paddle—but in the inch or so of water which surrounds me in the bottom of the raft (which appears to be deflating) there’s no paddle to be found, because I’ve forgotten to bring one in all the excitement of that fast ride out. I’ll have to use my hands—but the distance, the waves—I probably won’t make it, I'll never make it. This conclusion scares me so much I wake up, into another dream; a brief intermission for coaching (What am I, a coward? What’s the worst that can happen—it’s a dream!) before I send myself back to the raft to await whatever happens. Upon my return, however, I am suspended in the water, the raft is floating overhead, and I realize I didn’t make it after all. A bigger boat’s wake must have swamped me. So flipping the raft away like a trapdoor I poke my head out of the sea and spy an impossibly large yellow moon peeking at me from the nearby shore through the painted towers of a cardboard Lower Broadway, while Judy Garland’s film recording of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” accompanies and slowly fills the scene. Alone—alas!—I cry and cry, because I was alone; I cry myself awake into another intermission, from which I’m sent to Staten Island where I’m walking by a beach while someone behind me says to a friend (we’ve all come over together on the Ferry), Just watch her, see how they can pick each other out in a crowd, watch the eyes.

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