Your wife snaps the butterfly clasp on her purse. It’s easy to ask when you know what you want. She’s boy crazy, flirting with the teenager chained to our pizza. While she folds his tip I tiptoe upstairs. Your wedding bed kneels on arthritic haunches. Flip-flops off, I fall face first: ruffles and flounces, a three-legged divan. Who sleeps on so many decorative pillows? I’m tired of threeways where no one gets fucked. Downstairs, your wife’s enjoying her pizza. Her crush drives off in a cheese-colored car.
Your girlfriend licks sugar off the rim of a crystal shot glass. What happens to the wedding gifts if a marriage dissolves? Before, it was easy to send thank you notes: white scented paper, matching envelopes, & dark green ink. But now you’re changing in the bathroom, unbuttoning the shirt I bought for you at some Labor Day sale. Soon I see you all pale blue in someone else’s designer dress. I’ve undone the little clasp on my purse, searching for gift receipts. Sweetheart, your new bride is waiting in her mud-stained car. The husband I remember wouldn’t look back.
Flowers in my hair, white scarf, pink nails: no looking back as I board the ship. Catnapping on deck leaves creases in linen. I’ll iron my skirt before cruising the bar. Here’s endless water and a lidded sun; in three days we’ll dock and I’ll sign off on Albert. Overboard without a trace. I’ve changed my surname, as some women do. Here’s salt on a glass the color of sunset, here’s a toast to lost luggage and a one-way fare. History begins with the future, perfect. I re-apply lipstick behind door number 2.
We carried wedding china through the woods behind your house. Smashed each piece against a tree. You asked again if I wanted a ticket, salt over our shoulders on a seaside voyage. I said no and I’ll say it again. I love people in the strangest ways. Besides, you set your house on fire. What kind of lover wastes her matches on wood? I’ve got two cigarettes in my back pocket, and a quarter for the jukebox in a bar downtown. Every stranger wants a different song. At the end of your ocean is another small town.
1. Cream-colored linen skirt. For swimming or drowning.
2. White button-down shirt, three-quarter sleeves. Edible buttons make this a practical purchase.
3. Pale pink sweater, thin cotton. May be used as a leash.
4. Ivory slacks, low-rise. This year’s collection calls for legs to be stitched together at the inner seam.
5. Blue silk sleeveless shell. Includes ocean sound audio.
6. One “fun” item, such as a scarf, belt, or handbag. For burying the unwanted.
Kristina Marie Darling is the author of nine books, which include Melancholia (An Essay) from Ravenna Press, 2012; Petrarchan from BlazeVOX Books, 2013; and, with Carol Guess, X Marks the Dress: A Registry from Gold Wake Press, 2014. Her awards include a Yaddo fellowship, a Helene Wurlitzer Foundation residency, and an artist grant from the Kittredge Fund. She also edits Noctuary Press, a small press devoted to innovative cross-genre writing by women.
Carol Guess is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including Tinderbox Lawn, Doll Studies: Forensics, and Darling Endangered. She is Professor of English at Western Washington University and lives in Seattle. Follow her here: www.carolguess.blogspot.com.