Stephanie Barbé Hammer has published poetry, fiction and nonfiction in the Bellevue Literary Review, Argestes, Square Lake, Rhapsoidia, Café Irreal, Locus Novus, NYCBigCityLit, CRATE, Inlandia, Pearl and Hayden’s Ferry Review among other places. A two-time Pushcart nominee, she teaches Comparative Literature and Creative Writing at UC Riverside, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two unfinished knitting projects and 12 tiny cacti. She thanks Bruce Holland Rogers for his help generating the work that became this project, Carolyne Wright for her poetic acumen and encouragement, and her classmates in the NILA MFA program for their talent, enthusiasm, and support.
Woman to woman (for Alan Dann)
A woman came up to me in Bloomingdales and said she liked my sunglasses and I told her where to get them and she said, “what do you think I am -- a millionaire?” and stomped off.
A woman came up to me in grad school and said she wished she was as smart as I was and I told her where to find the good theory books at the library and she said “what do you think I am -- stupid or something?” and threw down her copy of Derrida’s On Grammatology and stomped off.
A woman came up to me in the airport in Montpellier and said “ce livre -- De La Grammatologie par Derrida – c’est à vous?” and I told her I had picked it up off the ground in North Carolina, and the woman said “Quoi? Vous êtes un connard Américain?” and lit a Gauloise and stomped off.
A woman came up to me in the hospital and said “this is your baby,” and I took the baby, but she said, “I can tell already you’re a terrible mother,” and threw the baby blankets at my husband and stomped off.
A woman came up to me at the swimming pool and wanted to know why my 2 year old daughter was laughing at her classmate, and I explained that she had never seen a penis before, and the woman said “DON’T USE THAT FOUL WORD IN MY PRESENCE,” threw a beach ball at my head, and stomped off.
A woman came up to me at my house and said she wondered what all these little girls were doing, drawing with chalk on the driveway, and I said they were friends of my daughter and she said “YOUR CHILDREN ARE OUT OF CONTROL”, and the girls started laughing, and they all took giant steps behind her as she stomped off.
A woman came up to me at the university and said she wondered why everyone was so mean to each other on campus, and I said “what do I look like – a therapist?” and she said, “Yes, you do,” and stomped off.
A woman came up to me at a shopping mall entrance, and gave me a Kleenex because I was crying into the telephone fighting with my husband, and I said “thank you” and she said, “I know exactly how you feel -- you wish you could just stomp off.”
A woman came up to me at the Northampton bus station, and she said she knew me from somewhere, and I said “I am our your mother,” and she said, “I know -- I’m your daughter. I’m just kidding and being weird!” and then she pretended to stomp off.
A woman came up to me on the beach and she said she knew where all the magic stones were, and I put down my copy of Derrida, and laid out a beach blanket, and we took turns stomping off and looking for magic rocks and then bringing them back, lying on the blanket, telling each other stories, while wearing each other’s sunglasses.