Lacing Into

May 24, 2013

He twines black ribbon around his wrist. With a yellow strand, I mirror him. Weave slips around the thumb and passes through open channels between fingers stretched wide. Twice around and across, the dressing lays itself over the bumps of knuckles where once we counted days of the month. He is finished with both of his before I am even halfway around the first. His fingers turn my hand and graze my left palm just before mummifying its living flesh beneath warped satin dressing.

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Not a Bit Tamed, Untranslatable

Marlina Vera Couples

1.

“Would you rather,” he asks me, “never be able to use a public library? Or lose the dog forever?”

“The library,” I say. As long as they exist for everyone else. I could live without them. Besides, my friends could bring me books.”

“Would you rather,” he asks me, “never be able to read a book again? Or lose the dog forever?”

“The dog,” I say. “If she’s going to a good home, I would miss her terribly but she’d be okay.”

“Would you rather,” he asks me, “never be able to read a book again? Or the dog dies?”

“Neither,” I say.

“You have to choose,” he tells me.

“No, I don’t.”

I reject the false choice. No situation in this world demands such a splitting. I claim it all. My love is vast. Like Whitman, I contain multitudes.


Continue reading “Not a Bit Tamed, Untranslatable”

My Shimmering Lovely

Today is a resting time, and my heart goes off in search of itself. If an anguish still clutches me, it’s when I feel this impalpable moment slip through my fingers like quicksilver… At the moment, my whole kingdom is of this world. This sun and these shadows, this warmth and this cold rising from the depths of the air: why wonder if something is dying or if men suffer, since everything is written on this window where the sun sheds its plenty as a greeting to my pity?


 

Albert Camus, Lyrical and Critical Essays

Heartache is a bitter decadence, the dark chocolate of emotions. Indulgence means savoring the long, slow melt.

Tonight, I wallow.  Continue reading “My Shimmering Lovely”

11. Things I Can Tell: The Other Story

The phone pings. Almost there. Come out and help.

He pushes his bare feet into sneakers and doesn’t bother to tie them. Outside, she pulls past in her father’s SUV, shoots a U in the street, and comes to a stop at the curb. The afternoon is warmer than it should be. The last crusted mounds of snow cling to the shadows under the eaves. Everything else is soft again. Somewhere close, a bird sings and sings.

“Help with what?” He calls. She steps out and goes around back to open the hatch. He squishes across the grass and down the driveway. Smirking a little out of the side of her face, she leans towards him without turning. She is busy shoving something sideways in the cargo area. He kisses the exposed cheek.

Inside the car, blue and brown plaid cushions flop forward. She tugs too hard at a wooden foot and one of the pillows escapes. He grabs it before it hits the damp street. The upholstered monstrosity is jammed up against the ceiling of the car. He stuffs the cushion in by the window and fits his hands around the back. She urges the front feet forward. It twists just enough and slides out in one smooth motion.

They stand there together holding the two ends of the chair and glance at each other. She cracks a grin. He begins walking backward up the driveway and she wobbles along.

“You bought me a chair?”

“No,” she huffs. “Hold on.” She sets down her end, adjusts her grip, and picks it back up. “I bought me a chair.”

“Shouldn’t I be meeting you at your house to do this, then?”

It is too wide for the door when they go through straight. They slow, back up, tilt the top. He guides it at an angle. The bottom corner catches on the door frame. He pulls without realizing it’s caught and she lets out a little yelp. The wooden foot has gashed the molding.

“Oh gosh, I’m sorry.”

He laughs. “You should be.” He steps over a pile of shoes and nudges aside a plastic bin of sports gear. The lid topples off and he almost slips on it. “You’ve comprised the integrity of this meticulously maintained home.” Once inside, they set the chair down in the narrow foyer. Reaching around, he pulls her into to the corner where he’s pinned and then folds her into a hug. Even though the sky has been clear, her hair smells like rain. “I’m on strike until you give me a clue. Am I storing this thing for you? What’s the deal?”

She leans back a little and warms her fingers on his bristled cheeks. She looks at him. “Hi,” she says.

He grins. “Hi.”

“Come here,” she says as she breaks free. She clambers over the chair and up the stairs. At the end of the hall, she clicks on the light to his room. The cat leaps up from a pile of laundry and darts past their legs. “It’s only me, dingbat,” she hollers. She walks around to the far side of his bed and pushes at the mattress. It scoots a few inches closer to the door. The she twists open the blinds on the small window behind her and muddy February light trickles into the room.

The corner breathes wider as she opens her arms into it.

“Here,” she says.

“You bought a chair for my room.”

“Yeah. But also, I bought a chair for my room.”

He shakes his head. Smiling but only halfway.

“This,” she says. She traces the small corner, its emptiness around her, with her hands. “This is my room.”

“And your chair.”

She shrugs and her face slides into and back out of one of its funhouse distortions, quick as a blink. She glances down and touches her fingers to the windowsill. A draft chills the wooden lip. “A place to write,” she says quickly. She hasn’t looked back up. “ReStore had this sort of side table, too. It’s really small and I’d like to sand it down. You wouldn’t believe how good a deal –”

“That’s so presumptuous,” he says. Now she looks up and her eyes register this blow. But he smiles. “I like it. I like that you presume. I want you to.” He starts to step around and stops a few feet short of her. “Can I come in?”

She lifts her hand from the windowsill and laces her fingers together. “Sure,” she says. “But take your shoes off. I just moved in and I want to keep things nice.”

He steps beside her and they stand leaning into each other, gazing out at the room. “It’s cozy in here,” he says.

“Isn’t it the perfect size for me? It took me a long time to find just the right place.”

His hand is on the small of her back. He feels her arch her spine into his touch. “How long do you think you’ll stay?”

She turns to to look up at him. His glasses are cocked a little on his nose and she straightens them. “The landlord hasn’t asked for a long-term lease. He’s letting me do this month-to-month.”

“He sounds like an idiot.”

“Oh, he is. But he’s good with a wrench.” She drops her voice. “Also, he’s sexy as shit.”

He groans and bends her back to kiss her once, hard. Then, into her hair, he whispers, “That is one ugly chair.”

She laughs and pulls away. “Well, good thing it’s not yours.”

“You’re crazy.” He takes her hand and leads her towards the hall. “Let’s see if we can make that monster fit.”

 

#2

Before the tip even reaches
the scrap he’s set on the bar,
the pencil hums
a Cartesian chord
like a tuning fork
loose in his grip and streaks
two thick axes
across the plane. Pivoting now
at the corners, the silver
gray lead cuts those dicey
little circles
with their arrows
and Ts that come to mean
us
in the abstract.

Attraction
is a scatterplot at odds with offers,
men churning up a quixotic cloud
that claims a rarified horizon
well beyond
the gals who
know in their bones
the laws of gravity
and let their feet dance along
the trendline
until closing time.
 

Struck, Cored

I cut my fingers
raw on you. Deep trench in the
soft tissue, I wince and fight
the urge to pull back, press instead
into the resonant sinew, press
on. It never toughens
or it has not yet
despite callous
feint and cool. It is still inflamed
in those places. Strings
bite. You don’t
pull back so I won’t.
We make this chord.
It is the first one, the only one
Now, the only one
two three notes to twine this way
ever. This stroke is all
we’ve got. I with you, we lay
ourselves bare against fret
and neck, stay there, suck teeth,
let it sting. Hear the thrum
on vein, the way sound
is wave swelling up
from grain and hollow
belly driving me against you,
plunging us
into us.
 

Book Lovers

Each with his favored arm
made his foray
scorning confections and only sometimes opening a hand
dusted with the crushed stamen
of a hothouse orchid. Walt came bearing small sprouts
at least before his straight-up offer of crotch and vine
while against my throat, Edgar licked
glossed feather. I choked down Eliot’s ragged claws and talk
of Michelangelo, glancing against the vorpal snicker
Carroll carried unsheathed. The graze bared
blood beat and Baldwin fire going the way I dared not ache.
I had barely found my feet and certainly not my sense
when, whispering, Kazuo led me to a corner of the room
I’d never seen and there, Salman with a slow grin
esta-esta-estuttered open his voice in song.

It was not safe to be a girl alone
in their company. They pressed on, each
indifferent to rivals yet asking nothing less
than full capitulation of his quarry.

Clever Jasper tried coming inside
out, folding picture book origami into doors opening
backwards but I tumbled through a slice
of yellowed light into sweet William’s lap, his slings and arrows
only napping and that, not so soundly. Up on ladders to day
I climbed. Bryson and Sedaris cracking wise
thought for sure they’d trumped JD’s cutting youth
but he was a tougher contender than they had anticipated
and anyway, Collins was all along straddling straight-backed chair
with a boning knife slicing the gap between laugh
and shiver down to a crisp blue note. Snapping mm-hmm inside
Langston let his cats twine at my neck while under me
cummings with trembling firm-smoothness his liking how
Allan howled against the night. Fumbling at the sash,
virtue far from intact, my fingers pried open the window
in the center of my chest and I plunged through it
to the Rumi place where
everything is music.

There, landing,
belonging to whom?

Each took what they could but none took me
home. That is what the girl wants, after all.
They shrug and shamble
off. My belly growls. The spine
cracks. Tonight
the book of Him
is the only one on the shelf.