Ann Cefola
The Beauty of Distorted Vocals

       — After talk box in Frampton Comes Alive! double album (1976)

I could have said no.

Continued winding up the marble staircase of the library facing the green,
its circular window an eye on the blue smudge of Long Island Sound.
Bust of Christina Rossetti at top, students asleep or reading in chairs.

I choose a carrel, pull out my poetry or French book and write

an explication du texte. My destiny to be a Plath who lived, in my sweater, kilt,
and penny loafers. Crushes on my brother’s friends; yes, also there that year.
What I want is their confidence, selfhood. Why Christina — what did she write?

I glance at blank alabaster eyes,

work on a literary journal whose hard-drinking editor models himself after Jack Paar.
Interview Daniel Berrigan, who hates my freshman pluck, argyle knee socks.
Plan to study poetry with William Meredith when

she asks me to come home.

I am her best friend. I feel out of time, not daughter nor student but bust of an unlived life.
I read the Bible. Something about honouring one’s mother. Apparently I am Ruth,
telling Naomi I will go wherever she wants. My brother and father shake their heads.

I remember the wah-wahs of Frampton,

talk-box electric along our spines on the amplified green where girls in paisley glide;
guys diving for far-tossed Frisbees, leather fringe and sunlit locks flying.
It is still the ’60s although mid-’70s.

We were on the edge of our lives, Christina.

Something inside me wild and free but more stone within a comet flung off course
by heavenly bodies it neither knows nor understands, sparking unheard,
that freezing, scatters and burns.