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      "A bun in her oven? Geez Louise, isn't that
malarkey? Estelle? Miss Goody-Two-Shoes?"
      "I thought it was bunkum too,
when I heard it. Really: you coulda knocked me
for a loop. But Alice told me, and she's jake."
Alice: the provenance, the gatekeeper. So it wasn't all hooey.
It was the real goods. Aunt Ruby
hadn't shown up for her visit last month and,
well, Estelle was in a pickle, was between the proverbial
rock and its cousin the hard place, friendless,
paddleless up that famous defecatory creek and down
in the dumps, and while vernacular studies

isn't my speed, I love the way we used to talk.
We also used to say the autumn light is lambent
on the lake top, and the waves display a heraldic curl
as in halcyon days . . . and that was also a fine,
fine thing to say. Or that some multibody hid
his second exoneural projecto-self in a pocket of subspace,
masking it over with molecules of landscape-sim
. . . that's how they talk in sci-fi-ville, while over
in the empirical records of science, someone is saying
the reagent deliquesces although
in its previous state it underwent resorption. All
of the languages are appropriate to their purposes—are

fine. Jack Gilbert's poem in honor of wabi
—that's the Japanese word for, roughly,
finding a beauty in ruin that one can only
find in ruin—reminds us that to lack the word
for a concept is really to lack the concept.
Let the word occur, though, and then suddenly
in a fingersnap, in a trice, and like a bolt out of the blue,
I can see my friend for whom Estelle is an avatar
in stanza one, and the formerly unacknowledged
stores of dignity and perseverance
that carried her through the shame of the abortion
—her wabi—flower forth. One story goes

she fucked up big-time, Mick was a saint but
nooo, she had to get knocked up by an asshole
like Kenny. Another story: her mind is part dissociative, and
so requires positive reinforcement from multiple sources.
Actually they're the same story, only told in different languages.
Or actually because they're different languages, they're
different stories. In mine, she's just returned
from the doctor, and needs to tell Mick. She's sitting
surrounded by thousands of happy memories—the light
through the louvers is lambent—but we all know
how the story goes: life is jim-dandy, a peacheroo, then
words get spoken, and overnight the whole world goes kablooey.

Albert Goldbarth

The Georgia Review

Winter 2013

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