Linguistics and Foreplay
I tell you the dark scares me.
You ask if I am insecure because I asked
if you hate me a hundred times today. What
I asked was if you were angry. Same thing,
you say. In bed beside me you are a lifetime
away. No light is left in the room as I try to engage
in witty banter to explain the difference
between anger and hatred, but your hand
is on my ass, rubbing in slow circles, kneading
the flesh in a way that does nothing for me.
You are not the husband who would appreciate
definitions or dialogue in place of sex,
for whom talking was as hot as the intentional
thrust of one body into another, the silent in and out
of finger tongue cock. You bore easily
and get up early, take inventory
of sandwich and tea bags and skim
milk, the loaf of bread on Wednesday
that will be gone by Friday. The lunchbox
that will ride shotgun is full of meat slapped
between slices of wheat, artfully spread
with spicy brown mustard, Miracle Whip Light,
one yogurt, one fruit cup, one spoon for both.
I am dying in my skin. Slowly, it wrinkles like a ripe peach.
I know my crow’s feet and laugh lines
are invisible here, but I they exist.
I feel them mapping my face. Maybe I wanted
to be a girl again when I told you that
I am afraid of the dark, to make you hold me under
the swallowed moon, but I was every one
of my 39 hard years when I said
there are things in the dark
that do not exist in the light.
We have just finished making love. You are
pressed up against me, your chest on my back,
one broad hand covering most of my shoulder. Your breath,
sunlight warming my neck. I want to push myself
into you. I want to feel this protected forever,
or at least until morning.
The snow hasn’t stopped falling for three days.
It shows no signs of letting up.
I am holding onto minutes like air pockets, knowing you
will go home soon. Here
there is only you keeping me warm,
keeping me safe. Keeping me.
I am suddenly convinced
that I can remember every word you have ever spoken
to me. I silently string them together
just to prove I can. I ask what you wore
the night we met. You remember. I know
I have never needed anyone before. I have
never craved skin the way I crave your skin,
never missed touch the way I miss how your fingers
search me, the weight of you on top of me.
I want to paint a picture of you with my hands,
except I am no artist and you won’t hold still,
though you are so tired. You have worked
yourself into a crescent-eyed stupor again, and still
managed to save enough energy
to paralyze me beneath you, take me, connect
with me, stop time for me the way only you can. I plead
with you to sleep, but I am afraid to slip under,
to sacrifice one second of our time here.
I wonder if I am not already dreaming. How will I keep you
until morning, until it’s warm, until forever?
I have already proposed, wine-drunk and silly,
but I meant it. That night I said too much, gave
too little, stayed too long. I have already made my children,
built my home without you, and made my sacrifices before you.
It’s true the letters I have saved aren’t from you,
the pictures in the photo albums aren’t of us. You weren’t here
while I did or said or made the things
that when pieced together make up who I am.
But now you are, as if time wrinkled
and folded back in on itself.
You have already broken
all your rules for me.
Know there is nothing
more I want to take from you.
I have already gotten what
I came for. I am asking again,
in my own way, for you to stay,
to not let me go tonight, or tomorrow, or ever.
You are still walking in the woods
the night we tried to stop my friend from jumping
over a ravine, hidden in the twisted shadows of trees,
our voices echoing through the hollowness,
cutting the damp air, circling before touching
bottom where dark was no longer transparent.
Really, you just wanted to let her jump,
but knew she wouldn’t have let go of my hand.
You walked in front, bored
with the whole obligation to comfort.
Your body grew smaller as you hung your drunk head.
Light found its way between your arms and legs
as you distanced. I started to cry for you then—
knowing you have always sat on some edge,
have always already forgotten when and where.
I am so scared you are going to fall
into the nothingness below
and refuse to scratch your way back out.
Your eyes look around inside yourself,
trying to make sense of nothing.
Completion as directive. Let her jump.
Marital Settlement Agreement
Whereas, unfortunate differences have arisen
between the parties making the continuation
of their marital relationship impossible; and
Whereas, the parties desire to settle all
matters between them arising out of their marriage.
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration
of these facts and circumstances and of the mutual
promises in this Agreement,
Husband and Wife each agree:
1. Separation. The parties shall live separate
and each shall go
his or her own way
or molestation from
the other, as if unmarried,
and each shall not
annoy or interfere
April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania and is working on her
first (several) poetry collections and an autobiographical work on
raising a child with Autism. Her work has appeared in Poetry Salzburg, Pyrokinection, Convergence, Ascent Aspiration, The Rainbow Rose and other online and print journals and is forthcoming in Poetry Quarterly and Bluestem.
with each other in any manner whatsoever…