Amy Pence

Ode to the Extinguished Self

A cruel mid-western relic, an almost prefabricated room,
where the couple lose their edges, where
they couple just for grief, where cinema has almost
erased them. It's like Janet Leigh turning away

to hook that pointy brassiere, like women wiping their mouths
in motel rooms. The expected redressing. Years later,
in some future, they attend weddings and reunions uncoupled.
Like every ordinary tragedy, his eyelids are bloated from drink;

she is remarried.  They are still blonde, but tarnished with it,
and the self has no opening. Lights come up in the theater,
lights come up in the poem.  The flesh is stretched and marked.
The denouement flickers, no, vibrates like a window, but drunks

have no regrets.  Without self or fanfare, it's all gone: that
opening at the end, that graceless shift to welcome an entry.
On a small set in back rooms, we watch the selves slip
from their sleeves: it was a tiny motel room, after all,
and he never came.

Copyright 1994,  Amy Pence
Amy Pence teaches at DeVry Institute of Technology in Atlanta.  She's published in The Antioch Review, New American Writing, and other periodicals.  She has a three-year-old daughter named Ada. "Ode to the Extinguished Self" was originally published in Blue Mesa Review Spring 1994, No. 6.

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