I went to Key Food last night in search of Hemingway —
You know, the way Ginsberg found Whitman in the produce aisle
pinching the long zucchini —
but Papa was nowhere, not even gnawing on a roast turkey leg in the deli section.
Later, I found him sitting on the back stool of the basement bar nearby.
We split a bourbon. His hand shot to my thigh in less time than it took for me to down the first sip.
He described the entire fight against Franco, all the boiling blood and screaming stallions,
in short sentences.
He declared all his lion hunts — the smell of curare and sweaty men in pup tents, the primeval triumphs —
in a staccato of one-syllable words.
I asked, “But what about the adjectives? Were they rationed in the war?”
He explained what he learned from boxing Gertrude Stein — that a gun is a gun is a gun.
He staggered up, made it into the john and killed himself again.
Today, Virginia Woolf and I ran into each other at RiteAid Drugs in the feminine protection section.
We talked about him in run-on sentences, using “heliotrope” and “Saharan” in flying buttress phrases.
We said it figured, with that guernica grammar, that he was suicidal,
promised to brunch — me and you, her and Rita — and we both made it home alive.