She mentioned that her shoe had come off
in the stairwell. A dress pin had dropped earlier.
Though it seemed to land somewhere on the carpet,
instead it had become a deep absence
looming, casting its distended shadow
across the room. “Have you heard of this?” I asked,
pointing. There was a photo of a large orchid
projected onto the sheet covering the window.
It was closed like a fist.
I was embarrassed to be caught spending time
so alone comfortably on a Friday.
“I must be very strange” I thought, but didn’t say.
Once in its life, I explained, the petals open to invite a beetle
and then lock it in for several days.
It has nothing to do except pollinate. Even if
a beetle is capable of joy, I don’t know
if this experience could be deemed an enjoyable one.
She looked happier than I’d seen her in years.
Soon after, when she was gone, Nick returned
and asked me what my favorite sculpture is.
Without thinking too much, I replied. ‘Giacometti I guess,
those ones.’ Tall, dissented, lost looking. But I hate
when men remind me of them lying undressed.
Suppose I have been to terrible places and forgotten them.
I can’t stop dreaming of strange toilets. Across the road,
the windmills look hysterical and glum.
I am afraid to find out that, beneath their clothes,
some of the people I know are horrible insects.
For a summer I worked for an online magazine
compiling tables of little known holidays
and appropriating them as themes. School Nurses Day
and then the same month for Glaucoma and Family Fitness.
When I can’t sleep, I sometimes watch a reality program
about the sex lives of esoteric people in this country.
There is one woman who wants to weigh 1000 lbs.
Her husband is aroused by making four dozen eggs
and feeding them to her. With joy and tension, he describes
lifting her stomach before intercourse. He is excited
by “the prospect of immobility.” I wonder when she will die.
Sometimes it makes me feel better or worse
to watch this, or makes my problems feel small
and regular. My sleeping pills are not very effective.
So what if I am still falling out of love
and even walk softly home repeating phrases
like I am a human or It will be morning
tomorrow. I’m not speaking in metaphorical terms
when I say there was something bad growing inside me
and if they didn’t find it and cut it out with a wire
I could have died. That was Columbus Day.
Now I sit reading. I pause often
to think of madness and scripture: a world
where men wander the desert lost for years.
And who knows? It could turn out alright.
Like that, suffering and celebration.
A grocery store or a church.
One website says: your essay should be quick and easy:
like a convenience store robbery. Imagine that
and being better for it. It must be that the insurance firm
is so generous. Everyone will be a bit too devoted
– Struggling to remove the splinter
in my foot. I can feel it
without knowing how
it is making its way in
or if it remains in the same
it has made for itself
I remember once having agreed
to a dinner with my old boyfriend.
We had already broken up.
Even the waitresses at the restaurant
were wiping down tables
& pulling at blinds when we arrived.
After we paid, we sat on a large rock
at the edge of the park & watched a taxi
turning its service light out.
A woman in a blue dress
stepped off the curb, violently waving
a folded bill, but the driver shook his head
and continued on.
I have only toenail clippers
so it is a dirty, difficult work.
What is sought
seems too discrete.
I don’t how to describe
what pain is too much to bear.
I can even scare myself
by leaving too many documents open
and, given the chance,
I will be careless for almost nothing.