Pork Pie Hats
We are all wearing knotted neckties and porkpie hats in the photograph,
We are in the subway. No flash, TriX pushed to 800
like Garry Winogrand and I’m Garry taking the shot
because I’m not in it,
just Louise, in the foreground, half turned to the camera,
her cheekbones, sharp as a cattle catcher, slightly blurred,
and Catherine, in soft focus, as she always liked, the gentle lighting,
her mouth pursed in a pithy comment, looking sideways
at Erin, who is pulling down the brim of her hat
to hide a cigarette.
God, did we know how to smoke then,
how to make the most of every cigarette gesture,
when and how long to take to light one up,
to take a draw, to blow the smoke out of our mouths
or let it drift up and out the nostrils,
how to use the cinder-tipped white wand like a conductor before sex
and stand behind the swirl of smoke like in b/w movies,
like in b/w film, TriX pushed to 800 to have natural light in subways
or dim, loud clubs, light natural so you could hear the glasses clink
or the silk lining in a jacket swish.
I found Erin again, some 20 years after she lost her accounting business to coke
and married Flora, a photographer.
Louise stopped sculpting and stopped talking to Erin and Catherine
and sometimes me, for ten years once, but always to Brigit,
who wasn’t with us.
Catherine, a designer, talks to everyone.
Where were we going on the subway? Max’s Kansas City? Jimmy Days?
A party uptown at Brigit’s? She rented two apartments
and removed the wall between. Were we high already?
The only time I danced after eighth grade was at Brigit’s parties.
Maybe we were going to a play? We went to a lot of plays when they were cheaper.
We saw Langella in “Dracula” and had to run out to the lobby
at intermission to smoke and stroke our necks, he was so sexy.
Did we just have to ride the Staten Island Ferry to see some horizon?
Mid-westerners need that once in a while after moving to The City.
If we were going to Chinatown, we’d have already been to a club
and we’re headed downtown for chow fun
in our thrift store jackets, knotted neckties, and porkpie hats.