The Fox In The Beaches

Sitting in the chair
with its threadbare bruises,
I am home. The earlier-crimson cushions
look bled dry, hosting the smells
of long-dead decades. With the sudden
gust of breath from a spirited descent,
there is a hint of the crying war bride, or
the scent of the brazen flapper
who teases and tortures
her wide-eyed suitor.

The popcorn is tough and stale
but drips with real butter. It’s also
sprinkled with old-world salt, dancing
like Astaire on my century-jaded tongue.
How I love the glass-countered confectionary
with its scratched, weary cases and
burbling, sweet fountain.
The lobby smells mildewed and musty, like old,
dampened books while the lights are creamy soft,
whispering to my eyes.

As I sit, keeping silent, waiting
for the gold velvet curtain to lift,
I let the eerie deliciousness invade me.
Since 1914, the Fox has double-featured
splendour and pain; a haven for rose-lipped lovers
and refuge for those in need of solace;
Gable stroked the hair of the twenty-year-old widow
while Garbo stoked the smouldering lust
of the hot and hungry boy.

Grandmother used to come here.
Her house still stands not two blocks away.
As I search the seats ahead, I realize that
I’m looking for her. I’m looking for the
coffee-coloured hair, the wine-stained lips
and sparkling, azure eyes. I know, that
in the third or fourth row
there would have been the first date,
the clumsy hand swatting and
the stolen, bashful kiss.

Grandfather at nineteen,
nervously taps his soles on the floorboards,
breaking the heady tension
that only virgin love can bring.
He has a daisy in his grip; a hasty offering
plucked from Kew Gardens,
when he remembered she was a lady.
They give ladies flowers at a time
when soda comes in glass bottles, as does the milk.
Someone is always bringing something to the door.

The screen is luminous, but I'm distracted.
I’m looking for ghosts. I’m smelling them
and tasting them and think I hear them crying.
Amidst the wails of Vivien and Bette,
I know I hear the gentle sobs of girls
who kept their hair in curls, and the
powdered taps of their heels kissing
the timeworn carpet. The scent
of watered whiskey and Yorkshire pudding
camouflages the bouquet
of bursting kernels. I can feel
the screwback earrings tug my lobes,
forcing their weight.

I love the creaks, squeaks and sighs
of these timeless walls;
the perfect, evanescent score.
The movie house projects the past
in living colour while the ghosts walk
and watch in a slow-moving,
incandescent ballet.
This is what I’ve come to see.

The dirt and grit of this place is beautiful;
glitter dust from another world.
The buttered popcorn is divine, and
the seat springs caress my body
like cushioned rubber.
I will stay rows away from Grandmother
so she can watch the show in peace.

The velvet curtains could stay closed
and I’d still buy a ticket.

by Tara Teeling

Other poems of TEELING (71)

Comments (1)

Oh, this is simply beautiful! You capture the nostalgic air of the theater, combined with the drama that plays itself out not only on the screen, but in the very walls and floorboards. A jewel of a poem!