Pas de Deux
I’ve tried writing you letters. They litter my dining table, my bedroom floor, crumpled they trail my mind, mint stained fuchsia. Little strands of memory attach themselves, transform the balls of pulp into stalagmites of blurred ink. I feel a tug, skirl edgewise, buffeted into flushing the toilet or crossing the street. Sometimes the mirror shocks away, my face rearranging itself from my face.
I’ve tried weeping, squalling, crumpling with tears so hot they evaporate before my cheeks. My glasses, crusty with salt, speckle my gray city with pride. The pain, purged for days, hovers like an echo squeegeed into a sudsy waterfall, always on the reverse: a riptide on display. My fingerprints daren’t fist a smash or the rush of anger will prick my face with the shards.
I’ve tried working. I’ve crafted you into jewelry, smithed ropes that strangle. There are those draping themselves cool and gemmy into my breastplate without burning. I’ve caught a few drawling to snare my hostility, my generosity. There are colorings I can’t forge into expression, lines of apology where I don’t owe a thing. Sometimes I stroke my sewing machine and think of how thin I should be to feel you around my waist.
I’ve tried therapy. To unstick the bad from the worse, to peel the fine strands of love you’ve snuck into my life. To convince the steely-edged woman with shrewd picks that you’re worth loving; I can’t bear her frowns. There must be something that would make her smile to hear. Hollow victories, the moments she allows that loving you is my business…the advocacy that you’ll someday return with a head screwed on right—knowing that she means that I’ll know you for what you are once my heart closes with a stitch in time, coarse black thread disintegrating into protons and neutrons, swapping electrons with pulsing.
I’ve tried everything. For years I thought that trying meant that you were having a positive effect on me, that being your whipping girl was my salvation. After all, I wasn’t directly lashed. You’d wield the rod and I’d put my hands on yours to soften the blows, strengthen your awe. I believed that the snippets of torture I shared from my chambers, pumping fear and grit, would convince you to one day drop to your knees and apologize.
I’ve tried everything but my fingertips. I’ve tried everything but my heart: word processing. The secret is to take back my story but your disdain for me now that I’m cracked raw so your fingers can paint my face with my own blood…has vetoed my own grip on what I’m worth. Doubloons from a pirate trickle karats. Doubloons from a rascal break through enamel into root canals.
I’ve tried nothing like this. Writing the story that matters most: ours. Rape is nothing like a man who turns you loose for someone else’s haunts. It’s your hands I remember on my wrists: it’s my ghost that returns to them for lacing into rampages that end in exorbitant bills and your credit card on the table, the kisses after dessert that your lovers don’t get: warm pressing kindnesses heckling the umbrage my heart is always given, always takes, for my body’s imperfections. Your hands in mine give way to two children grimy with hunger and forbidden liasions between one beautiful man and one average brunette.