Mrs. Robinson, Are You Trying to Seduce Me?

Maya Jewell Zeller

It’s how we always say it but it turns out

how we say it is wrong. Dustin Hoffman’s

character was never so sure of himself,

what he really said was Mrs. Robinson,

you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?,

which is a huge difference when you consider

the misplaced caesura and how tonally

he belies a lot about young Benjamin Braddock

and 1960s America. And sometimes

it’s really the other way around, Mrs. Robinson

just falls victim to another nice six-pack

and she’s bored and tired anyway,

too tired for sex, so they talk.

Since we’re all being so honest here

I feel I should tell you about my whale

dream, the one in which they swim

past me while I’m tied to a chair

on a small raft in the ocean, skimming

over the waves, dusk all around

us and I don’t mind because I am so close

to the water I can touch them, my fingers

on their smooth backs as they breach

and glide, and my friend Kate says

this dream is about when those twin

twenty-six year olds hit on us a few weeks

ago, the ones who had a thing for MILFs,

who wanted to fuck us, their mom singing

karaoke in the next room, us playing doubles

with them on the pool table, the rails’

rubber dull and the cloth faded, us winning

and me trying to let them down easy

by explaining I was a high school teacher

when they were in high school.

The dream was peaceful until it wasn’t:

a large brown eel with a ridged back

began to swim around and around

the raft, and the whales seemed unaware.

I tried to save face, but maybe my friend

was right to set us all straight, she said

we’re not going to sleep with you,

and we all blushed, and the one who had

me in mind said it could still happen,

and we said it couldn’t, and they knocked in

the eight ball too soon, and I can’t help but notice

now that ball’s the same color as a killer whale

and maybe a therapist would really have a heyday

with that. The game was over. We left

the room. But my friend said maybe after all

we should have just kissed their faces,

just to see how it felt. If we’re being honest

with each other I think I better tell you I wasn’t

at all interested in kissing their sweet faces.

If we’re being honest I should say the dream

arrived after, in the night, it lasted hours,

me in that chair on that raft in the sea, the sky

losing its grip on light, like a good sleep

or a glass of wine when you haven’t had wine

in too long, and I was as relaxed as I’ve felt

in years, I almost didn’t want to wake,

even after the eel began its orbit and I knew

we were all doomed: me, the raft, the chair,

my ropes, even the whales swimming toward

where the sun had been, even the ocean. Especially

the ocean, the harbinger of all of it, all of us.

Sure I wanted to go on touching those beautiful

orcas’ backs, but I was also okay with whatever.


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