PAT AND MARY
by Judith Roche
In this dream the dead girls are alive.
Pat swaggers in with characteristic confidence,
crackles with tightly wound energy.
Electric and thin. Her shirt is off,
displaying the green jungle tattooed
broadly across her back, the sinuous black panther
slithering up her spine, across her shoulder
and down her left arm. Her small breasts
exposed, but thatís not the focal point
with all that going on in back. Scapulae
spread like muscular wings, almost levitating the girl.
Mary follows, carrying gardening gloves and clippers.
Pat and Mary.
Together for eighteen hard years,
running with the wild girls,
while the jungle grew in increments on Patís back
until it covered it all. Mary, growing seedlings
to give them away, what they didnít sell.
In the dream Pat draws a knife deftly down the edge
of the walls. ďNot enough cut to hurt much,Ē says Mary.
Just enough to show a thin line of blood.
Pat swipes her finger in the crimson,
paints it on her cheeks. ďItís art,Ē says Mary,
which she would say about whatever Pat does.
Pat jumps to the produce section of a supermarket,
perches atop a pyramid of stacked artichokes,
directing the dance of the vegetables
under lurid fluorescence.
Mary finds the milk and sucks up a carton.
Last time I visited, Pat lay in bed with a respirator hose
in her nose and showed me two new woodcuts.
Still playing with knives.
Mary showed her tender seedlings under growlights.
Pat died in a motel room, after swallowing a monthís medications
and chasing them with whiskey.
Mary stayed with us a year longer, then left
with a bang. A gun in Seward Park.
The wild girls left erected a park bench
there in their names.