Domestic Triptych


In his bright glasses every word is inches away, overwhelming. Sometimes her words are magnified, too. As if he’s speeding up, at the edge of the universe, ever expanding. As if aware now of what he didn’t know that he wanted. The brief rain rapping the windows, bills paid in full, a seat on a never empty bus. So when she tells him she’s late, he feels the expanding of time. He can forget how his mother might have set things askew. He can imagine what it’s like to be saved, to be spared, from a despair he wrote through his entire twenties, most of his thirties. When children smile at him, he waves back, from bottomless hope and good will. But when she torments her own soul, an agenda he didn’t sign for, in it is every thing that he had spent years learning from. What you can’t tell someone. They are only ready to hear what they are ready for, though it’s usually the complaint others have of him, too. So he returns to methodical coaxing, a silence that heals, and the awareness of pressure building and miraculously, releasing. Focus on the words before him, one at a time.


He could be done with certain impostures, with what had changed so much over time. The light sliding, a golden rectangle from top of bed to a lower quadrant, across orangewood floors, eventually diminishing in a papery fine spread, waiting the gas blue light of the night sky. Where once he’d dreamed of their future and spruce scented soaps, a kind of ever present uneasiness in demands, within that year she’d already embarked elsewhere. He had no idea what fate awaited, the number of fruitless pursuits, only that of always making it a place in his life. Someone must have said, or should have, that someday you’ll have no more leisure to linger on such luxuries, and it struck him as true, in a way.

The Past

Years in now, unspecific memories become secrets he revisits in moments of ague, despair. A navigation: through pooling dark, in brightest waste. No more can he speak of these, tiny barbs that make her feel inadequate, hints at experiences that she can barely bring herself to tolerate his acknowledging. So he watches, listens--how often she tells him he does not--and in the hour before sleep they return to quiet rustlings, when these pasts return. He knows she knows, and hates, any comparison. She knows, he knows, because it is the same for him, with her revisits, too.  

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