It wasn’t working. None of it. Not that particular summer. The rituals scurried off, toe-tapping and juniper-burning useless. The front yard, symptomatically vacant, requested redress, and so she filled it with a Saturday sale, dragging onto the lawn his boyhood nautical rope mirror, her collection of pastel pinwheels, three black Oaxacan skulls, only the most sullen of her porcelain dolls. A fair trade, a swap of sentiment for narrative victuals. Something to break the leg of the devil, as the Sunday morning flea market rug dealer says. She needed to crack it with a thick wooden mallet. Split it wide apart and chase the slippery sorrows, reckonings, psychological antiquities.
The worst thing that’s ever happened to you.
The most inhumane thing you’ve done.
Your preferred profanation. (17 fucks, 8 cocks, 4 pussies, 2 cunts)
Your earliest childhood memory.
She reaches for a green woolen cardigan hanging on the bathroom door’s backside and slides herself into it. Within the pockets, crumbling snowflake-patterned Kleenex, a rifle-wielding plastic figurine, a matchbook from the local sushi restaurant. And from inside these lives of others, she hears water rushing forwards and backwards, forwards and backwards.
"That was another world they had been in, surely. As much as any world concocted on the stage. Their flimsy arrangement, their ceremony of kisses, the foolhardy faith enveloping them that everything would sail ahead as planned. Move an inch this way or that, in such a case, and you’re lost."
— Alice Munro, Tricks
Mescal was dripping onto the tile floor. This would cause problems later. She looked down to see that two lime wedges also lay there, one of them showing signs of having been crushed beneath a sole. Things were presently, currently, tilting and blurring. The petite ceramic vessels of agave’s fermented fluids could be held accountable for some of this but not culpable completely. Something about the way he licked the salt from his fist. Something about how he conjectured the likelihood of feral mapaches lurking through the yard and he said of these masked beasts who tear koi in half and toss the guts into rose bushes, rip legs from kept, wading tortoises, force dogs into swimming pools to drown them: “They’re not vicious.” And so he swayed into the dark, swinging a bag of empty bottles and cans like a privileged hobo, warding off negligible predators.
The door swung open as the matte newscaster reported the Rincon Valley fires were zero percent contained. They silently watched the flames dance on the screen, their own bodies pressed hard together, shoulder to shoulder. Balancing the bowl on the overturned tips of her fingers, she pursed her lips to blow and wish.
"Got you. You’re mine now. For the rest of the day, week, month, year, life. Have you guessed who I am? Sometimes I think you have. Sometimes when you’re standing in a crowd I feel those sultry, dark eyes of yours stop on me. Are you too afraid to come up to me and let me know how you feel? I want to moan and writhe with you and I want to go up to you and kiss your mouth and pull you to me and say ‘I love you I love you I love you’ while stripping. I want you so bad it stings."
— Bret Easton Ellis, The Rules of Attraction
"You know the parlor trick.
wrap your arms around your own body
and from the back it looks like
someone is embracing you
her hands grasping your shirt
her fingernails teasing your neck
from the front it is another story
you never looked so alone
your crossed elbows and screwy grin
you could be waiting for a tailor
to fit you with a straight jacket
one that would hold you really tight."
— Billy Collins, Embrace
You are looking contemplative while picking seeds from your watermelon wedge. Your two children chasing one another in the close distance, on acid green grass that never leaves a trace of footfalls. For you, their endless game of chase is ordinary, but I marvel at the absence of capturing and holding the hunted. But mostly, I am wildly occupied with rearranging the features of their actual faces like fictitious flash cards, carrying one image into the next, but trading brown eyes for blue, blonde hair to black, seraphic waves becoming fine, bone-straight strands. My ability to recall images is near to eidetic, a problem only when it comes to wishing away your face and my memory of it so close to my own. The slipperiness of your wet hair. How your mouth moved when you’d say “beautiful girl” while pushing overgrown bangs from my eyes.
A single moonless night might have revealed you. Hearing a single hushed voice murmuring “I miss you” in the valiant darkness of your kitchen, protected by a blacked-out sky. You would not, now, be dropping seeds onto a paper plate in midday light, every so often endangering an afternoon idyll by glancing at my feet.
"There is no sex without love, or its refusal."
— Paul Goodman