TWO POEMS By Isabella Howarth
On the day I visited the one-time psychiatrist I spent $200 on a sweater so that the salesperson would tell me
everything that was right with me.
That afternoon I learnt that:
- The forest green shade of the alpaca-merino blend brought out the colour of my eyes.
- With this garment and my mary-janes and my hair like this, I looked like Betty Boop.
- These sweaters were so soft that every time you wear one it feels like a hug.
When she rang me up and got my phone number, address, and birthday, she told me:
“Now you’re part of the family!”
Then I spent much, much more money to be told everything that was wrong with me, for ninety minutes.
Actually, I paid to have her listen while I talked, which held so much less currency.
I spent a week’s worth of pay for this time, or approximately three and three quarters of a new sweater.
The drizzle clung to the new wool while I walked home, and I thought about my purchases.
An abridged listing of the 2019 Wellington Film Society schedule:
Heart of a Dog (2015)
We must have been messaging each other for a week now, and have talked about a lot of movies we like. We’ve
also talked about sitting together for these screenings, but when I see the outline of your body in the crowd I
don’t wave you over.
I message you my thoughts later in bed. Laurie Anderson directed this documentary, and she was also one of the
poets featured in the 20th century American literature paper that I studied, and you tutored, the year before.
But I can’t remember if you remember this.
You do remember this, and you remember me, even though we never spoke.
Neither of us found this one very funny, even though the rest of the audience laughed 106 minutes straight. I am
glad we both agree on this, because I can already tell how smart you are, and that I want you to think I’m smart
too. We are going to agree on most things, but I don’t know that yet, because it is our first time sitting together.
You walk me halfway home, and I think about how fortuitous it is that we both decided to buy memberships for
the first time ever in the same year.
It Happened One Night (1934)
You’d told me about this one beforehand, how you’d always found it funny as a child. I know enough about you
at this point to know your parents showed you lots of old movies when you were growing up.
The most famous scene in this one has Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable sleep with a hanging sheet dividing
their beds, the “Wall of Jericho”. When they get married at the end he makes a joke about finally tearing it down.
I rest my weight on the arm rest that separates our seats.
As we get up to walk into the night, the man sitting beside us, who has overheard our conversation, thanks us for
our company and tells us how fun we are together. It’s the first time we are a “we”.
You bring your girlfriend with you, or your sort-of girlfriend. It’s a little uncomfortable, even though you ask my
permission first, sort-of.
The two of us talk loudly, as usual, so loud that the old woman next to us shushes us, even though nothing has
The three of us watch in silence.
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
The last time I had seen Sofia Coppola’s feature directorial debut was on a date the year before with someone
else, who had been more interested in another someone else, but I wasn’t thinking of that.
I watched this movie a lot in high school when I was both a virgin and suicidal and thought that it would be
romantic to watch with someone before we had sex for the first time.
We leave separately.
There are three scenes involving cunnilingus in Kleber Mendoça Filho’s Aquarius, and I’m extremely aware of
By the ten minute mark I’ve uncrossed my legs, turned to see your profile illuminated by the protagonist’s great
aunt being eaten out atop a dresser, crossed my legs again.
Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)
One week later we leave together, post-climax.
Isabella Howarth used to clean hotel rooms and study English Literature. She now works in a library and tries to write things that aren’t essays