Diann Blakely
(September 1998)




Reunion Banquet, Class of '79

"What happened to Charlotte Rampling?"—the vamp
and villainess of freshman year's remake,
Farewell, My Lovely. I can't recall the plot,
nor which boyfriend I went to see it with,

none villains. Freshman year, girls learn to drink;
we spent weekends bombed in years that followed,
often with those old boyfriends, some seated
in nearby chairs as we discuss Three Women, Klute

("poor Sutherland—what was the bomb that followed?"
"Fellini's Casanova"); Jane Fonda
changing women from fat dateless klutzes
to lean wives, marrying "that Turner guy,

a fellow Casanova before Jane."
Chinatown, Looking for Mr. Goodbar,
Diane Keaton ferrying from guy to guy
then killed. Helter Skelter, a TV movie

looked at with Chinese food and tepid beer,
that crammed dorm room (soph year? junior?), our knees
jellied. Hell, what's better than the movies
for filling gaps, for steering talk away

from this crammed corner's melodramas, its queens
of bad luck? Emma's three miscarriages—
"children fill a gap"; talk tries to veer away
but she tells us about her absent husband,

who blames their bad luck on her mom's DES,
how she spends Saturday nights now, fevered
by secrets she doesn't tell her husband:
chlymidia and one nostril scarred from coke,

for instance. Saturday Night Fever!
someone yelps, and Nan's atop the table—
clam sauce spotting her skirt, a Diet Coke
spilled—in the famous John Travolta pose;

someone yelps as Nan tips from the table,
as Layne prescribes a single mom's sanity:
sitcom repeats, like the John Travolta show
about the teacher, while she plugs into

tapes that prescribe ways to keep your sanity
while raising a small boy alone. Virginia
weeps—loudly—about the teacher who plugged her
senior year, and the men at the next table

rise to leave. "So long, boys," and then "virgins,"
sneers Laura, meaning none have been divorced,
not since senior year, when one at their table
tied the knot and wanted out weeks later.

The Deer Hunter. Most seated here are divorced,
and childless too. Lipstick. Who'll Stop the Rain?
I untie my knotted napkin, wanting out. It's late.
Woman under the Influence. Badlands.

"What happened to our apple charlottes?" Vanished,
like our lipsticked smiles, the bottles of wine.
We're women fluent with address pads and pens:
farewell, my lovelies. "I'll call, or write."



copyright by Michigan Quarterly Review, Story Line Press.