How to Have a Successful Relationship
All the guests smiling and bowing and saying, “You’ve got to say something apologetic now. You have to mean it.” So good morning to the mudgirls, corsaged with raunchy berry juice, gifting the desperate with haggard kisses. Good morning to the undulant farm hands sweating nectar and reeking of heaven. And good morning to a deep blue mosaic of floating children totally lacking in wholesome parental guidance.
And farewell to the corrective mirror of societies lost in the clever desert. Farewell to smoked glass religions.
And farewell to guidance counselors and tea stains. Farewell to Leviticus. Farewell, farewell to discreet blouses.
Farewell to respectable beds. Beds and beds. Farewell to more beds. Farewell to the silence not everyone could hear.
Farewell to the wrong deep stare of animals raised in captivity. Farewell to fat squat villains and bald hero wearing gigantic shoes. Farewell to the rough pair of hands in her father’s briefcase.
Which is not yet the reason I can’t fix it.
Farewell to an insouciant declension of a very nearly fetal facial gesture. Farewell to indolent vigilantes.
Which is still not the reason it has been given teeth but may be the reason it can
Farewell to emotions trapped in a plodding deposition.
Because her father was a nail driven by his father. Because as the relationship develops his religion strikes glass and shatters.
The door’s husband closes. The chairs gossip politely. Farewell, farewell to parental furniture and the residue of caution as the streetlights swell and listen. Because you have learned to pay attention to the streets at night.
Which is a welcome unlike the welcome of dishes or false security.
Welcome too to the great yellow horse of psychological injury who lives in the black-throated terror where shadows glisten, kneading the animal’s rump muscles like a clutch of over-stimulated lovers.
Elsewhere, empty as Kansas, she watches an old man pour gasoline on a brown felt hat and counts the tiny mutations growing in the rim pools of abandoned tires.
This shoe, he thinks, is female. His life still waiting. Which is a good enough reason to walk away from it.
You see, they haven’t known each other too long. They haven’t been cruel or too generous yet. They haven’t lived.
So good morning to The Rain Is Falling Church. Ah, how persistently these infidels make love. How beautifully The Sacrificial Ones can weep. And welcome to the burgeoning orphanage of the next day.
And welcome too to the blood blister of moon pulsing, useless as an unemployed cadenza.
After he found her, he cleansed the windows, the same windows he left in his old pants when he thought he had the world at his fingertips.
Then he touched himself in her liquid. You could see by the way he looked at her that the cathedral door yawned disconsolately.
The damp weft of her chin appeared when he had completed a random green game of go live like an insect.
Such delight. She wants to discuss him with the hummingbirds. Is there any reason to fear? Is there any reason not to?
I saw the sky and the earth, I saw the moon. I saw sleep disguised as clouds, I saw the clouds.
I wasn’t the one who forgot to be there where I was standing. I heard a car, but no engine, no doors. I was going somewhere. And that was how he prepared himself.
She was opening her life, she was getting in. There was a little house inside her clitoris, steady in the wind and powerful, a place of worship when carefully, and with complete abandon, inhabited.
At first, she couldn’t tolerate such beauty.
Twisted figures from Breughel. Jogging at the cold gym. Whispering to the icicles pointing at the future.
She’s been pressing on the cracks. She’s been exercising more than caution.
It’s a passion, so she thinks it can’t be a religion. But it isn’t a gift, so it makes her happy. A great monster of tenderness living in both fogs at once.
As the moon turned black in his head, he felt closer. He didn’t drop it, he didn’t even flinch. He wasn’t going to become just some symbol peeling spuds in a Cadillac. That wasn’t him picking his fingernails with a knife while the gangster’s mom hung her religion on the reliable clothesline. That wasn’t him licking the tempting drain of some saint’s rich mulch.
He passed up several women married to streetlamps and one with a button missing from her vagina. He wasn’t going to become some repentant church, promising the air, “Never again.”
He delivered himself like an envelope of lust in a language whose teeth had rotted, a constellation of stars floating offshore, the delicious sorrow dripping as it rises.
It’s only a symbol, you are saying, and you are right, but you might as well have said, It’s only the truth.
I suppose there are no women inside a lemon, he thought. There should be. A place of promise bowing gently to the warm air.
It leaves, in passing, more of itself than he thought to ask for.
Her bed harbors fugitives, the feet of the first dawn black with coaldust, on the table a whistle and a thrush pie. A kind of praying mantis romanticism. A woman who could nail the wind to the wall.
A small army of crows attacks a wounded gull in front of the asylum. These dark wonders decry no moles of hate. New creatures they are, with well-oiled feathers. If they sleep by the campfire, you can see them.
As if he were feeding a star while a battalion of ideals marched through a dead man’s arm. He begins pushing his thumb along the backbone to release the dark heart.
So busy burying his dreams, he missed most of the day.
She was kneeling on the sidewalk cutting raindrops with a razor blade. She would never again wear sunglasses to the funeral.
She keeps the future in an empty closet, where it belongs. She didn’t know the window was loaded.
Then the sound of a delicious transient kiss and the violinist’s hands dance down the street at the carnival, unattached, carefree. No more courtship for hire. No more sad sound tracks. No more by request for the same old.
The pendulums lie still in their casings. And silence, one of the snow’s great inventions, severs the excuses.
Could we possibly do something foolish together?
To live beyond the safety of belief. To melt the alcoholic hammer. To hold your fork up to the stars.
She wanted to ask him, “How furiously are you beating your heart?” Perhaps they could have gotten in line. They could have marched, the lie was that beautiful.
Sometimes he has to use his death as an anchor, to keep from evaporating.
It’s the way you might escape a catastrophic event, in awe of the responsible party, not knowing it’s you.
He’s become self-educated and he’s afraid of the reflection. It contains the dew, which was found among the hairs at the hollow of the dead woman’s back.
Was it her? How long has life been? Is there anything natural about their nature? He seemed to be checking to be sure that he was still there. No, nothing so literal as murder, though she still scares him. His boots are shiny. A bad sign. He talked to his dead father about it. But then he
merely dumped out the stars through an open window because his brain is like that.
The only thing unexpected about the death was the life. A child’s mitten whispering in the blackberry thorns.
Except for the sky burning, no one noticed. It’s life and none of us wants the one we have. It isn’t here and then it isn’t here again.
All the guests smiling and bowing and saying, “Don’t do this ever again.”
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.