Watch me dig this moat, and complain it is too wide, too deep.
Watch me fall down the rabbithole of this impossible desire: this man who is disappearing even as he comes into view.
Watch me focus on this schedule, these trivialities, these hospital corners; watch me try to convince myself I can conquer my libido with this keyboard.
Watch me stay in bed, scripting sex scenes for imaginary selves with more confidence than I had even way back before anyone ever called me bitch, deluded, unfuckable, fucked.
Watch me calm myself with lists, and lists of the lists. Watch me check the locks again. Watch me tell myself I dunk the tea bag 100 times because my great-grandmother told me to, and not because I believe it will encourage the universe to reshape itself around my want.
Watch me wish I could tell this woman I am fine and she is fine and everything is fine and it will all go on and it will all pass and her/my/our/their implosion will not be the end of anything.
Watch me build this fire and leave all the windows open. How else stay cool? How else escape?
Watch me choose the seat closest to the door. Watch me push my back against the wall.
Watch me slamthisdoorstampthisfootswearscreamslapthisface. So? I’ve watched more than one man put his fist through more than one wall.
Watch me shoulder this spade; watch me call it a shield.
The week you died, I wrote a bitter poem, a terrible, ugly, shameful poem, made of rage and rage only. A poem about my private calendar, the one in which the only dates are days for grieving, days I oughtn’t need a calendar to remember, a calendar that frightens me: it grows so full. I was too angry at you to keep the words in, and so I wrote them out, but I knew enough about loss to know this would be a secret, silent, forever unseen poem. Because the anger would die too, and the grief would rise and peak and fall away, and eventually I wouldn’t think about you every day. Eventually I would drive down That Street without turning my head to the left to look at the building to the west of me, would choose to look away instead, and eventually I would drive down That Street and not keep looking straight ahead, eyes on the road, forcing myself not to look to my left, but instead would pay attention to the traffic with the idea of you and the un-looked-at building sitting somehow passenger in my empty car, and eventually I would drive down That Street and not only forget to look, and forget not to look, but forget to remember; I’d be grateful for the calendar then, grateful I kept that poem – just another version of the calendar – silent, grateful for the record of days I oughtn’t need a calendar to remember, but thankfully, thankfully do.
I have written and erased five versions of this post. None of them were untrue; none of them were safe to post. I vomited them up and they slid off the screen. Perhaps this one will take.
<insert the worst of the things you know to be at once true and terrible and disgusting and unbearably painful, that you have been damaging yourself by denying and by keeping secret from the people who love you and care about you and would do anything for you, would give up their own desires if it meant yours would be made manifest, here>
Not here. Here is closed for business. Also, forget insert. Stick it.
three of us in this
together – first two plus one –
now twice divided
Things I was afraid of as a child
Being the only person awake in the house at midnight.
Rattlesnakes and quicksand (I blame ’80s TV).
That the mice whose claws I could hear skittering across the floorboards would climb the bedspread and run across my body.
The round blue eyes on the giant doll given to me by my father’s Italian business colleague.
Things I was afraid of as a teenager
Being thought of as uncool.
Things I was afraid of in my twenties
Never finishing my thesis.
Things I was afraid of last week
He sways, sleeping where he drops,
wakes already telling tales,
prattles and sings the whole way home;
sighs relieved, grants what is desired:
more than one could ever need.
All twigs can now be golden,
but water too, food, daughter,
all loves will be golden and lost –
– everything lost but this one prayer:
she’s clean; golden grit for him.
More than one woman has fallen in love with the Berlin Wall. There has been at least one marriage ceremony between a person and the Eiffel Tower. The women communicate with the objects; they love and their love is returned. I don’t like to use the word ‘it’, one woman says, because he is not an inanimate object. He is an archer’s bow.
I know a human magpie. He collects objects from what he calls the natural world. Rocks, stones, twigs, branches, knots, bird’s nests and eggshells and seed pods, gumnuts and ‘haycorns’. When he was three, he brought home a Jacaranda pod, hiding it beneath his bed in a paper bag. When he opened it a month later, it had burst in the bag. Its tiny opaque seeds were released into the air between us and settled in our hair, on the bedspread, the floor, our fingertips. I swept them up and took them outside to let them go in the breeze, holding his hand and my breath as he wept. When he pulls the bath plug, he repeats a ritual from his babyhood: Goodbye Water. I love to play in you and wash in you. See you next time, Water. When he was two, he spent one Autumn afternoon at the park attempting to convince me to put the fallen leaves back on their branches, where they belonged. All recyclable materials are to be checked for their ‘craft’ potential before they hit the bin. Broken toys are loved best and jealously guarded.
I am not concerned. Sometimes, as he falls asleep, he lists the names of the people he knows love him. When he wants attention, he says What’s more important, the news or your child? He is moved to tears by the tears of others. He comforts and seeks comfort.
I am terrified. I can’t put the leaves back on the tree. Tomorrow’s water will be both different and the same as today’s. If I could put his ideas of love and safety and home and forever in a paper bag and hide it beneath his bed, I might be tempted to do it. But very soon, instead, I will have to hold his hand and my breath and let all these tiny, opaque pieces of our future selves free in the wind.
The beginning of my story does not fit with this ending. These women who love these objects have nothing to do with me or my magpie. Only, I needed to start somewhere, and sometimes it is impossible to tell the truth.
We are not objects. We are archers’ bows.
don’t you get homesick?
gone so far so much for
me, I get homesick
alone so much
so much more
when I’m here at home
where I was promised