September 12, 2018
Sep 12, 2018
did take a walk that day. In the park, pre-fair, the rides in their peeling cages. Yet to unfurl their ribboned neon across the dark. Dust glittering in May’s godlight. I did not say I would be his chariot. (Perhaps its battled rust.) He did not proclaim himself viceroy of unfettered happiness. (There was nothing so tame for us.) We knew the sheer cliff of augury. Of contract. Of futures compounding in our joint portfolio. We passed the coin-mucked pond, the Bud truck with its capillaries of beer untapped. Swings lonely for children. Lotto tabs still unpulled. Gentle reader, in some savage country of summer, the corroded Comet would, late-season, like an angry god throw a man through the sky. I did not tell him there would be no pain. That love would make us free. It was only spring. Vetch hasped against the chain link fence. A robin delivered its largo to the weeds. Who, though, doesn’t imagine that flung moment? Pendulum ablaze. You can view it (really) in a video. We pressed pause, rewind. Then play.
wore the past around my neck like a pendant. There were empty metal chairs for the men no longer with us and for once euphemism seemed a good cloak. Our vows were Roman. The color of my dress Antique. Diamonds from a great aunt I never knew—sapphires, blue. No, I wore nothing at my throat. Except a belief that two syllables could save us. We were deepening. We stepped out of the designated day—flies hovering over our banquet of hot dogs, oiled chips—like stepping from a cooling bath. We emerged so into myth. Skipped ahead to the eternal. I swear, that’s how we were portraying ourselves. We wrote each other letters. Quoted Milton. That cavalier. Discarded our separate tragedies for one. The uncertain world before us. Sparta even, for the good ten years. Then I left my bouquet of thistles on the trolley. The frosting melted at a brief summer rain. Sad, molecular, a punch shifted in its cut crystal. We pictured, already, our children picturing us when we’re dust. Plato: The desire and pursuit of the whole is called love. So we surrendered to happiness. Last in our rented hall, I thought we might survive it. We pulled down the stringed lights. He held my dress’s heavy beading above my head and recited a poem about Ohio—about sure decline, and how what’s beautiful can kill us—while I peed.
am not so hollow-boned as to suggest a natural bent to flight. But. Caroming down the country road to a motel where the desk clerk, the dandruffed one with ember eyes, knows my face? Dear reader—five times this year I’ve fled. Eyre said men are hard-hearted and I underlined it twice. Five times I’ve snatched the keys, wobbled into the lobby to sleep on detergent-crusted sheets. Good Grief, I name the place. Hysterical Heart Hotel. I just feel so much, sometimes, mid-altercation, sound so tin-struck in my whine, believe I might really levitate—such a kingdom is my ire. Jealous Jane Suites. Knights of the Cruel Tongue Inn. Lowing with daybreak, the cows stare through the glass door, through me. Me, I’m morning-sorry. Nothing feels as poker-hot, as gnashing, waking up alone. On the way home the hills are finally tea-green, emerging from the mist. Please, I say. Quit turning away. Red-eyed, I explain the busted rear-view mirror. Sorry for the Impala, the lofted bottle of vermouth. The underworld of sadness. Understand, reader, that to some women harbor means point of departure, cold, stone-walled bay. Vino, veritas. We revolve around future absence. Exactly. You only know the plum is bitter when you’ve sunk your teeth into its skin. Zeus wielded the thunderbolt; cow-eyed Hera stayed home.
drank the milk of paradise. It made me sick. Wandering the new rooms at night, red rash along the torso. He was North, un-afflicted. I applied a chilly bottle of wine, slept on the hardwood. Who planted the magnolia so close to the house? Acuminata. Cucumbertree, fleshy fruit. Which settlers, 1788, midsummer along the glaciated territory, collected. Stored in thick jars of whiskey. One glass, one bitter glass. Who watched the rose-colored wand soften, turn? Take the liquor—autumnal fever prefers a soberer host. It commences with shivering. Cold feet. Just when you think summer has fled you, the leaves split open. Scarlet seeds hang from threads like jewels. Larger than finger nails, than horse pills. Manifold bloodteeth, a ring around the house. It wasn’t ours. We rented the land. Pushed our bodies through someone else’s walls. I resembled, that month, a parasite—singular, capable of worse, waiting to eject myself into a tongue-purpling ague. When he returned, he helped me sweep, each thick morning, the fruit from the porch. He drew me baths heaped with colloidal dispersions. Still I itched. Still, in bed, he started with the touch of an icy toe. One glass, one glass. Night-small creatures ran up and down the trunk, so close I could feel the protein in their claws. Take the liquor. Each morning the porch was full, radiant, no matter how much we swept, with rot.
see it first from the window. Body break-dancing around itself. A rabbit’s epileptic fit. Poor pinwheel. Poor whip. The in-between becomes more brutal. The will-it. The won’t. The don’t-keep-watching then it’s dark. “Shouldn’t we?” I ask, knowing how that we falls apart. He catalogues the possible weapons, the only son without. The shovel. The brick. The bat we keep in case. It hurts to look directly at his face, so we both keep watching the grass. He’s gentler than I. Finds no pleasure in pain. Suddenly it sprints—we go hopeful, silent. Search the night. There! Mid-leap the muscles grab it back, how it shakes and shakes. We haven’t left the kitchen light. I’ve read (Watership Down?) how they can shriek. What makes us train the hurt back on ourselves? Why do we stand so touchless? I’m ready to do it, almost greedy to be good. Check his face for the O.K. Turning away, I lose it. Which should be a happy loss. Which should grant us both good sleep.
While we have you...
...we need your help. Confronting the many challenges of COVID-19—from the medical to the economic, the social to the political—demands all the moral and deliberative clarity we can muster. In Thinking in a Pandemic, we’ve organized the latest arguments from doctors and epidemiologists, philosophers and economists, legal scholars and historians, activists and citizens, as they think not just through this moment but beyond it. While much remains uncertain, Boston Review’s responsibility to public reason is sure. That’s why you’ll never see a paywall or ads. It also means that we rely on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, pledge your contribution to keep it free for everyone by making a tax-deductible donation.
September 12, 2018