Dreaming of Frank Sinatra
He has made a comeback in my bed
like the last act of a lounge set,
perhaps a lover from a past life, reminding me
we once had it all, or nothing at all,
his black tuxedo, loose tie, the top button
undone by the spotlight. The end of a night
in a room after everyone else
has put out the last cigarette, rings of scotch
and water seeping from the bottom
of abandoned glasses on end tables
or the bench of the piano, where Frank
once propped a polished shoe and leaned into the swing
of “I’ll be seeing you,” no hat, shirt collar spreading
across cashmere like a dinner napkin. An after hour
Sinatra, singing in my sleep, drinking in my dreams.
My lovers leave when the leaves begin to fall,
and I drink red instead of white. Cabernet thickness, swallowing
soft black sweater. The lamp in the corner left on,
my reflection in the front window a portrait.
The house quiet once again,
I shed like the trees outside my kitchen window,
a weight once on me like wet clothes
falls away, piece by piece, and I begin to find
silver bracelets in bathroom drawers, notice
the lighter ends of my eyelashes, the way
I touch myself more, palms against breasts,
give of my hips while I wait
in the express line, not caring
if anyone notices.
My solitude more than freedom,
something I own, and the space carved away
by absence becomes a comfort, the way sheets
pulled back at night look
when you’re climbing in next to no one.
So I buy caramels instead of coffee,
sit on the kitchen floor and unwrap,
one by one. Go to bed before nine.
Underline words I don’t know
in novels, make a list to learn
by the end of each week until I can speak
a new language.
When I Stop Dreaming of Frank Sinatra
I am worn down by the way
I can’t bring back a life
by writing it, words on a page
little more than reminders
I had those dreams
of Frank, white lounge,
hotel suite. Lampshade,
the pink lips of girls teetering,
and the coarse men sweating
evening scotch, smoke
like a brush of dusk clouds.
Against glass, ice clinks,
his hands, not one night quiet.
But he has stopped
draping his tuxedo jacket
over the back of my chair
in the corner, and I search my sleep,
open doors off dark hallways
to empty rooms,
stay up late, red wine, wait,
flip channels for the black
and whites of navy uniforms,
the man with the golden arm,
his songs through stereo, signature
edge of an album. I am calling Sinatra
with his own words, the voice he left behind.
About The Writer
Jill Talbot is author of the memoir, Loaded, as well as co-editor of The Art of Friction: Where (Non) Fictions Come Together and editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, DIAGRAM, The Paris Review Daily and The Rumpus. She is the 2013–2015 Elma Stuckey Writer-in-Residence in Creative Nonfiction at Columbia College Chicago.