Welcome to the Convention


by Suzanne Wise

I didn’t know how I could afford to sit on my tall stool and drink my tall red drink, but it didn’t stop me. I felt lucky to have been let into the place at all. It roared with quips. It serrated with whittled physiques. It clotted with polished wing tips and waxed hair and leather neck ties.

The red drink disappeared. It had tasted of obscure bitters and the nourished soil of high-end gardens. I gestured to Rex, the waiter, that I wanted another.

When he placed the cold glass stem into my hand, he leaned in and began to whisper. I could feel the heat on my lobe.

He told me he had just accepted a tenured position teaching poetry at Smith College, the very college attended by Sylvia Plath. Where she had written poems and stories and published them. Where she had taken classes and studied for exams, which she passed, with flying colors. Where she had strenuously dated and socialized and worn the right skirts with the right sweaters with the right curled bob hair style. Where she had applied for internships, which she was awarded. Where she wrote letters to her mother filled with worry and ambition and competition. All this, just ten years before she killed herself.

As I listened to Rex, I was overcome with the usual overwhelming, intoxicating jealousy. Then I noticed, looking past Rex’s shoulder, a cougar wandering across the glossy top of the mahogany bar. Rex, there’s a cougar over there, I whispered. Yes, he said, we decorate with them. And I understood him to mean they didn’t bother with taxidermy; they had surpassed that.


About the Author:

Suzanne Wise is the author of the poetry collection The Kingdom of the Subjunctive (Alice James Books) and the chapbooks The Blur Model (Belladonna*) and Talking Cure (Red Glass Books). Her poems have also been published in the anthology Resist Much, Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance, as well as the journals The Awl, The Bennington Review, BOMB, Bone Bouquet, Cura, Green Mountains Review, Guernica, Ploughshares, Quaint and Touch the Donkey, among many others. She lives in New York City.