I don’t want anything of his when he is gone. Not a damned thing.
We didn’t talk for 20 years, and now he tells me stories. He tells me things about my mother I never knew, and I tuck them away like perfumed handkerchiefs in small drawers. I may never open them again, but they are there, preserved for posterity. Someone will want them and treasure them. Or someone careless will throw them in the trash.
Remember when no one could touch us?
You were Superman
I was Wonder Woman
and cape, candles, and
a length of rope
were all we needed
Love at first sight?
I grabbed at you
like in a haunted house
frantic and wasteful
horrific in its lies
but she will not have you
my right to be here
is grandfather’d in
I remember when we arrived here
such hopes consumed me–
I tried to love you, my idea of you
my vision of us, your selfish words, and
my selfish plans coated with expectation
left us in the dust
And now I think I will die here
and never see Paris
or the Thames
never throw my wishes into the fountain
I will die here
and never see Rome
or eat figs from a tree in Sicily
and Florence is just a lady on t.v.
I was told to open up
I was asked to show my real face
/don’t you trust me yet/
(no. But I can’t tell you that. You might be dangerous.)
/what is the real you/
[what are you wearing] Really? That?
Lana del Rey is crooning about Summertime from the other room while I have clicked on a poet I never read before, reading about her grief. The two meet somewhere between rooms and I imagine them as performance art. I write something to that effect on Twitter. Ten minutes later I get embarrassed. I delete it.
I show you a picture of an animal in a trap.
/ I don’t get it/
Then why ask to see it? Why ask for transparency without a measure of mercy and understanding in your pockets?
The woman at the desk was brusque and impatient. The line was getting longer by the minute. She didn’t look at or speak to Petra.
“2 adults to Lisbon.”
She prepared their tickets and stamped them, her eyes boring into Roberts’ eyes as they were slid across the counter with immaculately groomed and sharpened red claws. She seemed to notice Petra for the first time and eyed them both close and tight. Robert took the tickets and dipped his hat, turning to walk away with a hand at Petra’s back. “90 minutes.”
He could feel the shape of a target in the middle of his back as they made their way to the gate. They didn’t stop at a lavatory or a café. They walked until they reached the gate, then they sat down.
One day in London turned into Petra and Robert replaying the good parts of Niagara Falls. The first two days were spent fasting, and nearly dehydrating, in their hotel room. On the third day Petra and Robert ventured out, finding their way to a restaurant, and then to a racetrack, somewhere Petra could place a bet. It could have been anywhere, but Robert did love the horses. They got his heart racing in a way that nothing else could with the exception of the roulette table. Petra went along with it without much to say. She could live without gambling for once– the entire escapade a gamble, whether they lived or died, together or alone.
He said that I was trying to copy Bukowski, but I said ‘that’s bullshit’, after all, I barely drink, and my typewriter drops off the top of all the letters. You know I got that typewriter from my mother’s house after she died, but I pretend that it is the one that she bought me when I was 18 and she started to believe in my writing. That was the year I threw all my poems in the trash and she fished them out. She gave them to me three years later, before I left again, and I thanked her. At 55, they are an accusation, but I still have them. I think it is important to let the magpies tell you off now and then. If the path is too wide and amicable, I lose my groove and start listening to smooth jazz instead of Miles Davis. You know Mr. Davis, he’s the one that brought me back from the ledge.
Petra and Robert were less than two hours in the air, but it felt like more. Petra had been nearly killed, but it didn’t cause her the personal agony the hours did while flying next to him. Robert was polite. He let her sit by the window. He stood when she needed to walk about the plane. He ordered her a drink. God knew they both needed one. He was insistent that this ‘talk’ they were going to have was not going to be in public. He was not going to be standing in front of the world while she removed the dagger from his gut that she had left there in Niagara Falls.