Aside 16 Feb

The usual distractions of my household are absent due to work obligations and grandparent visits, so in this rare window of solitary my mind wanders to you.

For some reason, I’m thinking of the time you’d been careless while at home baking bread – walking away from your computer in the middle of writing me and you were discovered. This was not the first time I’d made an unpleasant entrance into N’s life. In the beginning, when we were completely fucking drunk on this, you’d gone to her. “I’ve fallen in love,” you told her, as if that explanation would usher you guiltlessly from the relationship. A relationship you’d cemented at City Hall just weeks earlier when — after both of you spent several years biding time until someone better came along — you’d given up and opted for contracted companionship with health benefits. I wonder if she’d recognize herself in that story? I suspect not.

The older me has to laugh at your stupidity, now. At the same time, what proof of how blindsided and knocked around we’d been by this. A 40-year-old man – one whose recovery was pinned on practicality and caution and a whole lot of low-to-no expectations – tells his wife he’s fallen in love with a 21-year-old coed, and then stands there waiting to be dismissed.

What a fool I made of you at times. There was always an undercurrent of that, don’t you think? Your resentment of this power I had – that you’d handed over to me that day we met in that bar, when you rescued me from the banker’s son. I know that mixed up with all the love and passion; concern and admiration; fascination and appreciation… was a fervent wish that you’d never come to my table that night. Tinting our bright white obsession has always been the faintest purple traces of resentment.

Sometimes I think you’d wish you’d never met me.

But not that day. Not the day you were professing your love for me and baking bread. Your head in the oven and her eyes wandering over the computer screen.

“We have to talk,” you emailed and I could read the urgency in those four words. You’d call me at 3 and I should be alone. And there I was…parked behind a Chinese restaurant in a town I didn’t really know waiting for a call from you that, for once, I didn’t want to take.

She was devastated, you were despised, and we had to end it.

And then we spent an hour on the phone sobbing. I’m not sure what else we said before goodbye. It felt like the end of everything. I was sure the break-up would stick. I didn’t think you’d have it in you to come back. Our goodbye was desperate and you made me hang up first. It was an hour before I could pull myself together enough to drive. I went home, packed a suitcase and started driving to Memphis. I don’t even know why Memphis. I was playing Neko Case – Set Out Running.

 But you wrote me by the time I’d gotten to West Virginia:


Your tears, in postscript, cleansing

what can’t be washed free;

scrubbing our soiled souls.

Making, of blood, two images.

Both familiar. Each lost on a journey home.

Neither flagging nor likely to falter,

nourished by my carelessness.

Finally absolute.

Finally bigger.

Fully insatiable.

I closed my eyes for a moment

without finding rest.

You were here

and not here,

smelling of pasture grass and parchment,


even while I watched you walk away.

(Always away.)

Hearing no songs louder than sobs,

I long for a crisp silence.

I am frozen in-between your breaths,

afraid to move.

The next word spoken will be one

beyond our last

And you’ll be gone forever.

Silent in the fashion of ice –

solid enough until held in my hands.


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