Author photo by Peter's son, Walter Bakowski

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Portrait of Verna Yan, crime fiction writer

Ten pages a day in longhand,

Verna’s new novel is going well.

 

Verna sits on a park bench overlooking the Pearl River.

There beneath its surface—                                                                                                        

fish, eels, crabs,

perhaps the revolver she dropped into it 

two decades ago.

 

She watches—                                                                                                                                        

a stray dog leave the shade of a tattered palm

to paw at a watermelon rind,

a couple dancing on an apartment terrace.

The tango music is loud,

the woman bends to the man’s lead,

his lips move closer to the lobe of her right ear.

They are kissing, not dancing.

The man is shirtless now.

Both fall to their knees,

roll away from view.

 

Verna returns

to her apartment,

to re-reading What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

by Raymond Carver,

stories about feelings expressed haltingly, violently or too late.

 

Verna looks at herself in the mirror, sees again—

that upper tooth chipped when she fell down the apartment stairs

on another blurred morning dedicated to drinking gin,                                                                       

a woman who shot her cheating husband

in a Coloane apartment twenty years ago.

Two bullets in his lying face—

a mess for the maid to find

when she came for more than the cleaning

each Wednesday.

 

Verna

moves towards her bedroom,

gets into bed,

thinking about the new character

who will appear in the next chapter.

She’s decided his name

and whom he’ll kill first.


(from Beneath Our Armour) 

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