At eighteen, a dropout, I met Chip at a Cambridge coffee house. His elfin nose was freckled, his hair fell straight, blunt cut, to his chin. At fifteen his mother seduced him. It went on for two years, he said. Some things don't make sense. During a blizzard he cut the telephone wires, left home and hitched to Boston. Or so he told me. That made sense. We traveled on money I saved from Christmas, then survived on welfare, a furnished room, and food stamps. I claimed a downtown corner at dawn. All Monday long, and Tuesday, I crowed, Phoenix! Boston After Dark! Some weeks we made fifty selling the news. The garbage piled in August. One night we tried to hitch to Vermont. Things happen. Some don't make sense. The cream sedan stopped short. I'm Sid, he said, towering as he stowed packs in the trunk. His hair was white, brushed back, and bushy; his nose thick, but genial. Driving, he described his show- a circus. Did we need jobs? But first, an interview – we could go now, to his walk-up. Yes? You'll wear a little vest in the show, he said, so I have to see your breasts, and I – was it bravado? – peeled off my shirt. Things never make sense. Your bra, he said. Twirl! Let's talk in the other room. His bed. It made no sense. His belly – large and hairy, his small needy prick. I tried to use my mouth, but couldn't. He sent for Chip. I waited. The kitchen light bulb dangled. A photo, black and white, of five cops in uniform on the shelf. When they came back, Sid pointed, Yes. My brother is a cop – my uncle – in the mob. As if it made sense, he drove us back. Don't tell police, or boom! As soon as you forget – your parents – neighbors – boom! he said, and left bags and us, two hours later, on the edge of Route 2 West.
Kathryn Weld is a mathematician and a poet living just north of New York City. She teaches at Manhattan College. She still spends summers in a rustic family home in the Adirondacks. She received her M.F.A. from Sewanee School of Letters and her Ph.D. (in Algebraic Topology) from the CUNY Graduate Center. She was a finalist in the Gearhart Poetry Contest.