James Allen Hall

Romantic Comedy: (Enchanted, 2007, Rated PG)

—for Amber Dermont
Goddamn the snow that sent me into the theater for two hours’ refuge
in projected light. Even if I only wanted escape, goddamn my wanting.
Goddamn the romantic comedy, a genre pockmarked by selves
who never fulfill themselves. Goddamn the men holding hands
next to me in the dark, their snippets of growl gilding the film,
their delight at the comic heroine’s transformation from cartoon to flesh.
She falls from Technicolor to Times Square, rising from the underground
in her marriage gown. Goddamn the heroine’s flawless skin,
her eyes rinsed red from waking in a drainpipe at the beginning
of a soured century. And then, God, after the movie’s over
and I’ve been flung into another city’s sprawl, after I’ve been crowd-filtered,
released from the fold forlorn, damn the bride emerging
from the Renaissance Hotel across the salted avenue, a vision
in an unsullied dress. Goddamn the fabric that will be so luminous
in the portraits, it will loom from its frame, fill all onlookers with longing
to feel it in their mouths, bite it into shreds. Goddamn what’s wrong with me,
I can’t stop thinking about the fairytale princess, her optimism a gust
of perfumed wind in a flagging sail. As if no one is shipwrecked
on the shores of Love Always Fails Us. The groom is whispering
Goddamn you’re wet in the broken laundry room in the hotel’s basement
to a bridesmaid whose white fur wrap is a strip of fallen weather
on the cement floor. Goddamn all beauty made in betrayal.
Goddamn the bride, she wants to live the heroine’s life, all shivering lip
and beaded veil, goddamn her until she is weeping, the cartoon fool.
The goddamn concierge opens the car door for her, bending elegantly
at the waist to palm her dress into the limousine. He fingers the slight hem.
Goddamn him, showing us what he could do to skin on the belly,
skin on the thigh, my untouched cheek. Goddamn the wind,
it isn’t the hand of a lover. Goddamn the wineglass shattering inexplicably
at the best man’s toast. The best men, the worst men, the extras in the movie
which brought me to tears—goddamn them and the gift of my body.
Goddamn the land and the air, the fish and the fowl, the light in the day
and the night in the night. But do not damn the lit cigarette I’m holding
too close to my face. Not it, God. Though it burns acrid
between my fingers, it does not leave me alone to lift my face up
out of the halo of darkness in the cold of Chicago.

James Allen Hall
“Romantic Comedy: (Enchanted, 2007, Rated PG)” first appeared in Bloom.