August 1, 2013

Loretta Obstfeld

MY LIFE WITH JEFF GOLDBLUM
IS THE TITLE OF MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Writing, I think, is not apart from living.
Writing is a kind of double living.
—Catherine Drinker Bowen

My husband is skeptical, maybe
even annoyed. Admittedly, I’m having
a hard time finding material, though

Goldblum was always there, popping up
behind me while I applied mascara,
sitting on the corner of my son’s bed

while I read One Fish, Two Fish, tip-toeing
behind me down hallways
like a retired assassin, all lurk

no follow through. “What?” I’d say,
and he’d slowly raise a thick brow
hanging me on the lip of a pregnant

pause. “Ex…expectation,” he’d stutter
with excitement, “is the sustainer
of the human pulse.” Then he’d lower himself

into the bean bag chair, legs nimble
as a mantis. “You know…” he’d say,
then get sidetracked with a thread on the hem

of his sweater vest, making me guess at what
I know. He loves to stand in a line, slouch
into crowds, been known to contemplate

taking a cruise just to feel the warmth
of a common destination, the patient
community of the buffet. Then coolly

turn and sacrifice the unsuspecting
individual: A woman slowly chewing
a piece of gum, her double chin

like communism in Russia—
the only thing he’ll know her for. Everything
is a metaphor until someone gets hurt,

then it’s still about the metaphor. He’s made me
late for piano recitals. He never feeds the cat,
or sorts the cans from the bottles. Doesn’t come

when called. Like a boyfriend who’s too good
looking, don’t expect any heavy lifting.
Yesterday, I yelled for toilet paper.

He was in the kitchen, the muffled SSH
SHHHH of the Reddi Whip can firing
into his mouth. I stared at the empty

roll and wondered if I should spend more time
with my children, pondered taking stock
of the paper goods. But soon, I’m right back

ingratiating Goldblum like a heaven
for the dying, the glorious chance
that he’ll lope into the living

room and unveil the mysterious: A Carl Sagan
of the lamp, the table, the daughter.
Then to endure him in bed

between husband and me, snuggling in
—a man made of nothing
but elbows, pulling the covers

to warm himself, leaving me awake
to consider the ceiling and all that
straightforward plaster living the clean life.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012

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