For peace, she is willing to take a pill every day that will take away her pleasures her poetry her creativity because it will also take away want and wish and turn love into something benign, undesired— something she used to be capable of.
The heavy snow stops everything— traffic work school construction lunch dates birthday parties doctor appointments big plans airplanes— but the heavy snow doesn’t stop your mind from running full speed two years into the past when you spent a couple February nights sliding into bed beside a man who loved you so much you can still feel his warmth the heat the residual burn while you sit at the table watching each flake fall remembering the way that love fell apart and accumulated into something slippery dangerous without color— something that looked so beautiful before it finally melted away.
It’s been two years since the storm took down the tree which broke off the top rail of a six foot section of fence that surrounds the large field where the brown horse stands in all weather watching the birds and the mice and roaming slowly along the perimeter grazing on what it must know is no better than what it could find if it were to make what appears to be an easy jump into some kind of freedom.
Close-up of “Two Horses in a Meadow with a Fence” by Paulus Potter, 1649
Amber plastic the color of sickness white lid fixed in position to keep its contents out of the mouths of children or anyone without the ability to summon a moment of herculean strength to press twist release the prescription into the open palm of a hand that will deliver into the mouth a remedy or a cure or merely a temporary reprieve from a pulsing pain where the heart used to be.
Oh sure, life went on. Sometimes, even often, it was beautiful. There were curiosities explored, facts accumulated into knowledge of this or that— interesting things, after all, were the things he was always after. There were days yellow as daffodils— days so capacious he worshipped all their possibilities— and it made sense that after enough time time took his mind off her. But sometimes there was a song playing on the radio in the car, unexpectedly, or cutting into the moody air of a restaurant when the bite was halfway to his mouth— he would be transported back to any number of memories that brought her to life brought her face into focus— and even though he blames her for almost everything, what he did to her will forever cause him to doubt his claims to every interesting woman he meets that he is a good and decent man.
Anyone who saw him would notice the care he took at the mirror would appreciate the fine choice he lifted from the hanger in his closet would be aware and maybe annoyed by his appearance, his beauty made finer by the gray in his hair and to anyone watching him at the table with his friend in the loud bar, beer in hand it would seem as though he had everything in the world— but that is what he lost and he’s here to find forgiveness from someone who isn’t his wife or his lover— reassurance he is still lovable to someone who knows him to someone who will know by the end of the night how many women it is possible for one man to love.
Knowing now the depth of some mistakes he made he said goodbye to the house the dog the wife the child made his way across town to the new apartment granite countertops everything more modern than what he left behind even the couch inherited from a friend is more comfortable than the one he slept on for ten years after his wife found out about his first affair but when she found out about the new one he decided it was only fair to move out move on because the last affair wasn’t going to be the last affair because he was the kind of man who needed to get lost in the minutiae of a new beautiful woman every few years after which boredom turned his head like a lighthouse beam toward someone more interesting out there in the dark and he’s sorry sometimes he was made this way sorry also that he hadn’t found a better way to conceal from his daughter his impulses to prey on those of her gender who weren’t much older and for this he felt not enough shame to keep him from trying to lure the most captivating flesh he could find into his new room onto his new bed where he will give his temporary undivided attention to the youngest most beautiful girl that will give him hers.
I don’t want to change anything about the way I am— what I want to change is the way I am not quite fitting into this world that no longer contains you— the world that’s been emptied of our collective joy and hope— what I want is a new year that will be without languishing longing lamenting the loss of our love that I am certain would have lasted forever if I hadn’t tried so hard to save it.
What a great fortune it is that I have them— strong able willing to carry me miles at a time through the woods along the beach down the sidewalk into and out of the grocery store the museum the theater— they can run dance jump kick lift bend they are shaved smooth the color of sand thick as pillars the sad soft skin never firm or close enough to the bones— the knees are pitiful undefined lumps below loose puddles of thigh sloshing onto the chair squeezed into jeans calves barely transitioning into ankles that hold up the structure containing my brain trained by social expectations and magazine covers to feel disgust as great as my earnest gratitude for the pair of aesthetically inferior genetic miracles that take me wherever I need to go.