Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Saturday Afternoons, Royal Theatre" by Michelle Bitting (and my commentary)

April drizzle, a triple espressso
buzzing my nerve cage like trapped bees.
This was my temple, my new religion:
Truffaut, Banuel, Goddard – triumvirate
of cinematic splendor, I'd hocked my choir ring
for the steeple-marquee, the pews of creaking plush
where I could shift my seat back,
sniff the buttered sprigs. This is where
Deneuve descended: luminous manifestacion,
swathed in blue Parisian light –
housewife, whore, she oozed Chanel,
a wild insouciance I worshipped, forgave anything.
This is where I sat with rank thoughts,
my brown calf-length cardigan
buckled around, making me sizzle, a stick of TNT.
Where I dreamed of Monday
and him, two long days away,
my married teacher – tall, shadow-thin,
our trysts and late-day talks
on the back stairs of the art studio
where he let me smoke in my uniform.
Then time off for 'bad behavior' whisking us
to West Hollywood, to galleries and dim cafes,
our knees kissing beneath pink table linen –
did they know how close we were to...?
Hurrying back for carpool – breathless,
quickly, quickly, smoothing the pleated skirt again,
and him telling me about some film,
fresh this weekend at the Royal:
Go in the afternoon, he'd say. Enter when
its day, emerge into night...

I think some days the thing I miss the most is an over-sized pair of sunglasses and the anonymity of a college campus...or a coffee shop cafe...intellectual conversations with strange kids in classes with exotic-sounding names like Film Lit  or Introduction to Greek Literature.  

How could I properly deny myself the night-class love affairs in dim-lit hallways with boys by the name of Chris and Keith...young men who loved me for my skin, the dashing unbroken dreams I breathed to them during 2am phone calls.  

How could a girl so young and impressionable, who'd just (metaphorically) met Bukowski over coffee and a morning stop by the library, not love the erotic touch from a professor who published gutsy pieces of prose in magazines like Ploughshares?  

The first time I read this poem, I was immediately thrown back into that atmosphere...since then it's been a nostalgic read, albeit a favorite one.  These words are a literary sum of my first few years of freedom, the liberation of becoming a woman all my own, the first few years of college when I allowed myself the time to dream and experiment between work and responsibilities and the relationships I worked so hard at yet was so quick to abandon.

I miss the leisurely strolls in art galleries where amateur artwork piqued my curiosity...the writing classes with professors who encouraged me to abandon form and fearlessly write about my life.  I miss the first bitter taste of mocha latte over conversations with an animated screenwriter of twenty-six who told me success would never have anything to do with Hollywood and news magazines.  

I miss the things that made me believe there was something more to life than routine, responsibility, a steady clock ticking behind the tunnel of my right ear...always urging me on and on and on.  I need only read these words by Bitting to know a great film and a stop by the bookstore are leisures long overdue.  Sometimes it just takes a good literary piece to remind you it's time to get back to yourself.


  1. ah yes, wonderful captured memories, nostalgia of the academic university life. many common experiences shared here. the small, little experiences that adhere to the memory part of the brain. reminds me of a very relevant, at least to me, saying...don't search or look for the extraordinary in life but make the ordinary just that

    gracias for sharing

    1. i always enjoy your insight. yes...some of my best, and favorite years, were those spent in college. now the task is to recreate the same sense of curiosity and zest for life without the atmosphere of a campus. :)


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