A Theory of Relativity
The youngest sister was never around when the pink pages of the devil’s
phonebook were used to start the fire. Her Bible, whispering restraint in the parent
drawer, slipped away with her bursting jeans in the basement bedroom where no one
thought to look. A curse of knots, a wastrel scab, the gold-digger’s nuzzled fortune . . .
Was there no end to the snuffle of the imagination she shed?
And her father, a cavernous southpaw, smoked a rubbery-looking cigar and tried to
conduct a possibility audit. He had one of those faces that said competent, that said
reliable, said dull. A poignant lime yawn, glabrous with defeated pilgrims, haunted his
And her mother (I really mean her mother), flamboyant in a greasy greatcoat and
still fermenting, struts home from the bowling alley dragging a wounded rainbow. She
had fun. And she stuffed all that joy into her body like a ham sandwich. But she was
there. She never allowed her eggs to get wet. I want to say that again. She never allowed
her eggs to get wet.
And the youngest sister imitated the dark meticulous spasms of a mousy gleam she
found running loose in an old detective movie carefully folded into her memory and
began hunting men like a lonesome knife. She was done being proper, so proper it hurt.
She was done being a little dream. No more good girl emotionally flopped in the street
like roadkill. No more antique futures. Her puddled sacrifice began raining inside.
I covered my heart with a shadow, as is the custom. I told the story of the soon to
be absent. I was only living it. I was only holding up the kewpie doll like a tawdry little
amusement or a strident fleet bite of hoo ha. Hoo ha. Maybe I’m a table. Maybe I’m a
hamlet of deep icy pores. Maybe I’m even younger than she is. The sister I mean. The one
we thought we were talking about.
But maybe I am that which measures my own caress.
Go ahead and touch her. If she doesn’t break, she’s you.
Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.