August 17, 2011

Jeannine Allard

Pillow Talk

You wear the crown of the pillow queen, my
lover said to me the first time we awakened
together. She had

expressions like that for everything, and
I thought, how lovely, to be able to stitch
together the events of one’s days with words that

sing. Our nights were filled with these songs, her
name sang on my tongue; to be able to see the world
through a prism of language that

confers dignity on it. And I, for whom words are
my daily bread, was left speechless by her voice.
Speechless by everything,

were I to tell the truth, for her world perceptions were
simple: we make our own happiness, we find our own
joy, and I think of my mother

drinking behind a closed door, forever angry, forever
disappointed, and I wonder what she would have made
of my lover, this woman who decided on her own

what to get out of life. Life happened to my mother,
and she blamed it on those around her, including her
child. We all carry the scars

of our pasts, it’s just that some of us carry them
more lightly than others. My lover said that people
don’t fit into boxes, they must be experienced

and accepted and I wondered how much of her wisdom
I’d absorb. The French city where I grew up, its
constant reminders of old pain

and old alliances and how many times does a person
need to say she’s sorry before she can forgive herself?
But in the darkness and warmth

of my lover’s room all hurts could be forgiven, where
sweet flesh was the offering made to the goddesses of
love and gentle kisses dispelled the coldness

of the world outside, where my wild messy hair could have
conferred on it words of beauty and pleasure and
life could be faced

with an equally wild and messy optimism
that can enable someone to see a crown
where others see only tangles.


Jeannine Allard is a novelist who lives at Land's End—at the
tip of Cape Cod. More information at

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