MEMOIR

by Denise Duhamel


If only I’d been a call girl
or dominatrix in college,
I’d have a memoir by now.
I missed being an extra
in Cyndi Lauper’s music video
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun”
because I was afraid
to call in sick to my real job.
I left the loft on Houston
before the orgy began,
my false eyelashes lost
to the clutter of a medicine cabinet.
The apartments I never bought
and flipped mock me.
Each poem I compose that is not
a Top 40 hit, each poem
that is not a screenplay,
assures my obscurity.
I’d hoped to bring Del’s Lemonade
to the Miami masses
via kiosk or truck. I sent away
for the franchise information
to sell the frozen treat.
First made with snow
in the caves of Italy, Del’s
was a staple of my Rhode Island
childhood. When shove came
to pushcart, I didn’t do it,
skittish of business loans.
I’d have a memoir by now
but readers wouldn’t believe
what I did instead, so much
suspicion surrounding a woman’s truth.
To paraphrase Kathleen Hanna,
I’m going to step up to the plate
then someone else is going to say,
“Really? You did what?
I don’t think so.”
I didn’t start
a band like Bikini Kill. I sat
in the boat while everyone else
snorkeled. I resisted so many
things on principle.
So many times I wanted
to be outrageously political
but then lost my nerve.
I’ve lived a double life,
then a triple life. For a time
I was even a wife
which felt a bit like decades
at a costume party.
The sex worker
was once my friend.
She hated men in a way
I understood. She benefited
from the meanest
and loneliest of humankind.
Each of us would have a memoir by now
though we’d rather not say
what really happened
those nights when we thought
we were all alone, no one else
with a heart
as splintered and cracked
as our own.

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