Getting Naked With The Secretary Of State
    Susan Terris
So, with a new moon in the western sky, we're just three college friends spending a week together at a Mexican spa; but, of course, one of us only completed her term as Secretary of State 6 days ago, and that means we're here in the mountains in a small adobe villa; and our job (the two of us who were not Secretary of State) say with some hubris, is to counsel and to debrief Madame Secretary (code name Fireball) brainstorm with her about her book, even as the auction for this is taking place far across the country, and though there are many firms bidding, we're not sure how many since none of our cell phones are working properly and voices at the other end speak to us in rapid Spanish; and that's a lesser problem than that the Secretary hasn't got any hot water in her bathroom, though we have a huge blue-tiled tub in ours and keep talking about the possibility of taking a late night bubble bath together which we put off because we're exhausted from a killer schedule of the sunrise hikes, noon picnic walks and afternoon climbs as well as sessions of Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi, hip-hop, djembe drumming, wreath making, weight-lifting, African dance, and even cardio-boxing; and, in our spare time, Old Grandfather Raven, the resident French-Jewish Shoshone has cast stones and bones for us, predicted blue skies, passion, clarity of future days, and we laugh about him back in our villa littered with newspapers, books, shoes, half-empty wine glasses, sweat socks and mugs of Red Zinger tea-- an adult version of our college rooms where we've (again!) strewn our clothes everywhere, walked around in varying states of undress complaining about our figures, discussing laundry but not doing it and taking notes until, everywhere, the eye falls on scattered pieces of paper with odd phone numbers and a pathological array of pens: fountain, ball-points, felt tips, highlighters; and, yes the desire to have a pen is our worst addiction and we are trying, for a week at least, to kick that habit and relax into mindfulness; but we seem to have difficulty with the pens as well as with clearing our thoughts when we walk the new labyrinth in the oak forest and or when we hike across the mountain with Noah, our guide, examining the granite batholith as well as Pig Rock, Skull Rock, coyote scat, and Bishop's candle, and though Madame Secretary sees all this she also sees the drug and immigrant problems, the border issues of fire, ecology, and pollution, and she's counting miles, looking not at her feet but into the future, and when we come down from the mountain, other spa guests (having mindfulness issues of their own) begin to approach us and ask questions, eager for some of Fireball's heat and light; so, with them, we discuss politics, the new president, foreign policy, the need to swallow Beano with spa cuisine, our kids, the men in our lives, Cuba, the questionable intimacy of Manuel's hot stone massage, the shape of women's lives today, condoms, where we are now and where we expect to be 10 years from now, and then we laugh that we are turning green from all the lettuce, broccoli, peas, spinach, avocado, zucchini in this healthy vegetarian diet; and when the three of us are alone, we insist we're starving and think we'll have to "go over the wall" by tomorrow night to enjoy a fat-laden feast in town at La Mision as a mariachi band serenades us; and once there we'll sit around looking back, looking forward as we toast while Madame Secretary assures us she has just left the best job in the world, that it's not as easy as it looks, that she's proud to be an American, that it was a privilege to sit behind a nameplate that said United States Of America; and what did you say? what about getting naked with the Secretary of State? well... it's not happening, but hey it did make for a very catchy title.

Susan Terris' new book FIRE IS FAVORABLE TO THE DREAMER will be published in 2003 by Arctos Press. In 2004, Gary Metras at Adastra Press will publish a letterpress edition of her book Poetic License. Recent fiction: NELL'S QUILT (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Her journal publications include The Antioch Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Ploughshares, Missouri Review, and Southern California Anthology. With CB Follett, she is co-editor of a new journal, RUNES, A Review Of Poetry.



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