Thursday, January 17, 2019


          I liked saying your name, swirling it around in my mouth, feeling its weight on my tongue. Liked gripping it gently between my teeth. The curtain of static parted to reveal you standing in front of the fireplace, flickering in and out of existence, looking at me like you were seeing me for the first time, like you had no idea who I was.

          I had no idea who I was. The fire crackled. The wind ruffled your bangs and you looked annoyed. Through the windshield, the earth was black and the sky was gray and it was all speckled with raindrops. Your thoughts hit me like a tractor trailer and knocked me to the carpet. The highway folded itself in half. The strings twanged hard but never snapped. You'd sliced your finger cutting collards and you held it up and I kissed the bandaged tip.

          Your finger was never bandaged. I never kissed it. I was on my knees my head pressed against your belly as you ran your fingers through my hair.

          A tropical zephyr ran its fingers through my hair. I was swimming through a forest of bleached coral. In Pompeii a buried filly clattered to her feet, trotted off through the rubble. I breathed in dread and breathed out anticipation. Out of the corner of your eye you glimpsed a Buddha sitting and smiling unperturbed beneath an avalanche of river rocks. The fire in the fireplace kept shrinking to a single glowing ember, you got down on your knees to breathe it back to life.

          You got down on your knees to breathe. Angels drifted in wobbly orbit at the farthest reaches of the solar system, hiding behind planetoids every time a spacecraft hurtled past. On the edge of a small town in Nebraska, a couple of guys cased cars in the parking lot, mincing between the silver puddles. My side split open and thousands of little clay figurines made in your image spilled out. When I tried to gather them up they turned to powder in my hands. I had no idea who you were.

          I had no idea who you were. It was like I was seeing you for the first time. You were running your hand along a windowsill covered with Mississippi sand dollars. A chalky lozenge melted under your tongue. Plate piled high with little corn husk bundles. Lemon rind peeled in a single piece, twisted strips of amber flypaper. You were on your knees looking up at me. I reached down and ran my fingers through your hair. The car stopped. I went through the windshield.

            The world went through the windshield. I don't know what happened after that.

         Years later there's the shattered hand, the splintered wound, the splint and the tape and the twine. As you recover you watch the the squirrels bouncing on their circuit from mimosa to rhododendron to corrugated shed to the house we once tore down to build another house from the same wooden planks, then back to the mimosa. The air is chewed to pieces by the symphony of chainsaws and lawnmowers in December. You watch it all through the dining room window, laptop on the table, laughing every time the squirrel almost misses a branch, as in the next room your teenage son dances with the vacuum cleaner.

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