In Retrospect

By Jcoterhals


It’s the summer and we’re in the house that I found for us. The sun is shining through the open windows and the bits of cloth that I have draped over the curtain rod make an amber light in the room. We’re on our bed and you’re wrapped around me. I’m singing quietly to you, a song that I want to play on the guitar but my impatience won’t allow for the lessons that you want to give. Your eyes are closed. We have a record on the player and the dust makes it crack and pop but I like the novelty of it all so you leave it to play through. You get up to get us cold water to share and you stop in the doorway to look back at me. You tell me how much you love me without making a sound. I believe it.


We’re at the cherry tree at the base of the big field behind my dad’s farmhouse. You’re fascinated by the swing that we have hanging from the iron pole that my great grandfather wedged in the branches over fifty years ago. The tree has grown around the rusty pipe and I quote Ginsberg – gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery. You don’t know the line, though we’ve been together for two years and it belongs to my favorite poem that I’ve read to you at least three dozen times. You don’t know the line even though I’ve brought you to my birthplace, shown you the realities of my world, told you of the survival games my father used to play with my sister and me. You don’t know the line and I doubt at this moment whether or not you care to know me at all.


It’s April. The cruelest month. We still live in the house but you moved into the bedroom next door because I said I needed my own space. We don’t share a bed very often and when I change my clothes in front of you, you look away. I’m on the porch smoking a cigarette and she comes to our front door asking for you. I don’t understand. I tell her, yes – he’s upstairs. I finish my smoke and wait a moment for my legs to stop shaking. When I come up the stairs she is sitting on your bed, holding my cat and smiling. You look so intimate but I still don’t understand. I take my cat from her lap and go into my bedroom, closing the door behind me. I do not cry. You leave with her and you don’t come back for three days.


I’m in a new house now. It’s cold and the glow from my computer is the only thing lighting my room. You still live in the one that I made for us. I don’t see you very often but I’m told that you aren’t home much and that she has complained that you never invite her to your place. Nobody knows why; they say they think you are ashamed of your old friends, your own housemates, but my vanity tells me other things that I prefer to believe. I remember the time you told me that you couldn’t be fixed and I told you with sorry eyes that the world breaks everyone. I was there to see your stringy hair shine again, your sallow cheeks fill in. I was there when your eyes began to crinkle in smile, when you moved after a lengthy period of stillness. I was there to see you awake from a long hibernation and I wonder how much of your past you’ve chosen to share with her.

She is, after all, more delicate than I.

Dana Carrico

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