Post—Jill Alexander Essbaum
after Simon Armitage’s “To His Lost Lover” Now they are no longer any trouble to each other… And the letter she deigns to write might begin: Well, Dear, I am drunk again. Or: Last night, I dreamt I was Magdalene and you were Jesus Christ. Or: Isn’t it nice how we’ve avoided such backbite betrayals as I’m sure we both once planned to carry out? And she could expound upon this, explaining how the Left Hand knew not what or who the Right Hand did, knew not that it hid, clenched like a fist in his pocket, ever an inch away from waving goodbye. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. Our kismets got crossed, or—shall I muse?—the descant of our song trailed off and the melody couldn’t survive on its own. And her script, sloppy as gin would admit: Often, I think on you fondly. But both will confess that the bed they shared was flawed by frame, by farewell. How well he said her name when he meant Someone Else, and the hushed, dim sinning of the linens. And then, how it ended. Still bright in her mind, a sorehead spree of insult added upon injury. And, her misery. Nevertheless, her letterhead might read in twelve point Garamond a fresh nomenclature. For what he once cut loose, she will have sutured to another. And really, seeing as they had no future (did they?), this will sting him, but briefly, a bee in his boxers, chiefly, though—and truly—her intent is not to maim. Fifty years from today, neither will quibble over how or when at last it came to pass, but will instead recall with flinching precision how subdermal like a splinter did they burrow underneath each other’s skin. And she, she might remember again, but warmly, the dimple in his chin, and the thin, tinny rasp in his off-guard voice, the backspin on his tennis serve. His nerve. Or, what noise he made above her, coming. Or, the haste by which he abandoned her, going. And yet, there have been such interim moments wherein she thinks she catches sight of him in street-crowds, where she rushes through the bedlam, calls his name out to a stranger. In a bar once, as she lingered over Scotch and licked, with her finger the rim of the glass, she swore she heard him laughing right behind her. She spun about so quick she burned her coat on someone’s cigarette. It wasn’t him, but a fragment of what could have been anyone guised in the scent of his cologne and the dumb, blunt drone of that old Ha-ha. Dare she disclose how many phone calls she aborted half-way through the dial? The gallstone ache from where her heart ought be but isn’t any more? Or that hers is become a different heart, a heart of the corkboard strain? She bobs and floats in a neap tide’s wake. Before, were we so bedriddenly smitten, we did not quit the house for thirteen days. And After? Shit if I know. This, will she write bereftly, for Everything gets ruined in the moonlight, especially the moonlight. And she will sign in her pie-eyed scribble, a surprisingly barefaced P.S.: As pain is to suffering, sex is to lust, and what I should not say is what I must. That I forgot how quickly forgetfulness comes. Also. I forgot to love.
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