Return, she says--so that your body and heart find their fit; we
lived that way, she says. The skin of desire, I say.
Remember the conversations? At least once, sometimes three or five each
day, she says. As if we used the others as stand-ins, I reply.
Pandora was wrapped in scarves, I say. I turned into two foxes at once,
she says, when I found you to say good-bye, red-tailed and gray. One
stayed longer in the garden before the dogs scared it away; I knew it
was you, I say. Your forehead leaned on the glass wall as you watched,
You didn't tell me you were sick, I say. I was tired of your
complaints, she replies; only the healthy waste their time that way.
I've forgotten how to live truly; how did we know? You knew me, I
knew you, she replies. I don't like it here anymore: I miss my
girls, the dog; sometimes I even miss my ex-husband; and all the
studios, of course, the painter; so much for the box--he painted it
open. He painted our thumbprints in; he left his own print out, I reply.
You left it all without him, I say. Like you, I locked myself out, she
says. Remember the photographs? I ask, and all the paintings
on the wall. The sink on pieces of paper towel, she says, and the trip
Charlottesville, the bookstore, the book about space. Remember the
disintegrating scarf? I ask, pieces of it still appear on my socks and
underwear. I knew it was your grandmother's, that she had died, she
says. You were writing the book about mourning; how ironic, I reply. The
next year my brother died, she says, standing on the street
in Rome. It's the same, she says, the air without people; you
started moving, she says. We still spoke daily, I reply.
When did you begin to die? I ask. The summer before the girls went away;
then they didn't want to go, she says: they were too young; I
couldn't stop it. I wish I knew, I say. It was too much of the
same, she says; desire didn't matter
anymore, I couldn't stand to hear about the ordinary arguments,
the dogs, the new lover. I would have stopped, I say; I would have tried
to help. There was nothing to do but leave, she says, I didn't want
I've seen you, she says: once I was a Luna moth outside your
kitchen window, you watched me for hours; and the foxes, they were
obvious, they were meant to be; then as the second dog was dying, I took
her place--- to see how you might have been if I told you: some days you
held me and wept, some nights you
slept beside me on the floor, some days you looked away. Dying
wasn't my point, she says, love was our subject: we said it aloud
to each other for years; you'd never done
I may forgive you, she says. I want you here, I reply. How could I not
ask, I say; why didn't I pause;
I should have stopped, I never stopped, I say; you were the third, it
never stopped. We'll try again, she says; I've moved inside, I
won't stop speaking now. See the eye in the wood plank,
she says; feel the dog under your hand; we will be porous again, open
for paint, ink, exposure. Stay, I reply, in any form; your voice in my
like the Luna moth, asleep in the daylight, awake at night.
Fill yourself up, she says, let me float as you settle your
stubborn feet on the ground. I miss you, all the details of your life,
I say. I was afraid, she says, but we were right when we were joking:
the moth knocking against the glass--that's my heart. Your voice is
soft, I say; so are your lungs, she replies.