When He Kissed Me I Could Hear the Ocean
By Erin Keane
“When he kissed me I could hear the ocean.”
— after Leesa Cross-Smith’s “Absolutely”
She likes the Blaster Mix of “Dancing In the Dark” with the fake drums and junior high-synth best and she doesn’t care who knows. She loves a boy who plays bass in a Grateful Dead cover band because she volunteers with unadoptable dogs. She tied a thin red ribbon around her wrist and said that when it fell off she’d decide whether she’d stay or leave, but nobody heard. She turns the song all the way up to rattle-the-neighbor’s-nerves, wonders what it would be like to have one chart-topping hit. What charts. Someone engineered that echo. Those backup singers visiting from someone else’s song. Still, her hair is an environmental event, her skirt a sneaker tide, a banner unfurling, announcing the end of the world. Once she walked on the beach at night with a man twice her age and saw how the birds feed on swarms of insects pulled to the casino’s deceitful light and thought that will not be me. Bird or insect or false beacon of fortune. She went home and got a job at the disco ball factory, in the custom orders department. A mirrored cowboy saddle, a guitar you can’t play. Between orders she inspects the round ones for flaws, twirling every tiny death star under a canopy of halogens and spots. What is she looking for? A skip in the rotation, a missing point of light. An imperfection she can amplify into a life of its own.
Erin Keane is the author of three collections of poetry. Her newest book, Demolition of the Promised Land, was just released by Typecast Publishing. Her poems, plays, essays, and reviews have appeared in journals, magazines, newspapers and anthologies, including Salon, The Guardian, Barrelhouse, The Collagist, Redivider, PANK, The Lumberyard, Poems & Plays, and The Louisville Review. A recipient of the Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council, she teaches in the MFA program at National University and works as the arts and humanities reporter for 89.3 WFPL, Louisville’s NPR station, where she also produces the on-air fiction show Unbound and serves as theatre critic.