A Story by Lydia MacGregor [prose poem]

How Similar is this to a Street Light Blaring through a Window

like a Stampede of Elephants?

by Lydia MacGregor

Strident is as strident does.


He says, A woman with a nose as big as mine–and it is not that my nose is huge, but trust me, no woman wants my nose, unless she were Sophia Loren, and if you ever saw Sophia Loren when she was young, in anything that revealed her shape, she could have a nose like Pinocchio, a nose like an elephant, a nose like a toucan and she would be gloriously fuckable–I mean Gloria Mammaliam in Excelsis. I am certain, when I was sixteen and my one great desire was to fuck my way around the world, I must have said something like to come in her for the rest of my life would be paradise, eternal bliss contained by time and space . . . desire eternal in the shape of a woman? He asks.

He says, The woman on this Coney-Island-bound D is wearing florescent green pants, a brown shirt with a leopard patterned shoulder bag and I wonder if she is half mad or just has no sense of color coordination, but then I see many, many Pakistani women with pattern combinations my girlfriend from Russia says come out of their asses.

He says, She gets off at Bay 5oth Street, as she does every Tuesday and Thursday I take the D to meet my girlfriend at Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue Station, after having taken earlier in the day her unlimited card for me to go teach at a school in Brooklyn the teeming masses yearning to be free, I say with several tongues in cheek–only one cheek.

Yes, he says, I have seen this woman before today, and her sense of pattern and color coordination has never been much better and has even been worse, or more strident, as strident as Penelope Cruz’s character in Vicky Christina Barcelona feels the Chinese of the Chinese cooks at the Chinese take-out restaurant is, as I also do, like her; listening to Cantonese to me is strident, and when I hear people speaking Mandarin, it does not sound the same, and I imagine that there are people in China who can speak Mandarin stridently, and I also imagine that Cantonese can be spoken non-stridently. It is also true that when I notice Chinese sounds strident, it is being spoken stridently for reasons I do not know, and may very well be the only time I do notice Chinese being spoken. But strident is strident to me, what I feel is strident, what I think is strident, even if I only imagine it to be strident. I do not think it is racism that allows me to think Cantonese is more strident than Spanish or French or even Arabic, if we want to include a language unrelatd to mine except by a common humanity, which we all do possess. In my neighborhood it is universally strident in the way the Mandarin of the librarian from Beijing is not strident.

So there, he adds in culmination.



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