Nicole McFeely and Maureen Blennerhassett
Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 126 in 2011.
There is a voice that echoes through the wires in the sky
bouncing off the moon when it eclipses the sun
sinking below the clouds, reverberating like thunder.
The voice of an angel: god’s favorite prostitute
saccharine sweet and generous in her platitudes
for she is both the alpha and the omega.
A voice that’s been around longer than the horses galloping into the dawn of time
and before humans were birthed from aboriginal chaos
because in the beginning, there was the word
and the word was
I heard she was missing.
and I began thinking about all of the married couples, once lovers, once friends
who had traded their speckled die for snake eyes.
I thought about the separation of souls once melded together
through sweat and smiles.
I thought about the venom acidic enough to slowly slip them apart.
I’ll never forget that day we sat in yr car in Oakland
you kept crying
you caught the tears in yr palms and kept handing them to me
as if it was the only thing you could offer.
But yr soul is so twisted
like the paper bag around the neck of the wine bottle
you have no time for underwear and shoes
no time to bathe or eat a meal
because time is not a language you speak anymore.
Yr tongue is a two-edged sword
slicing through all that is sanity
shredding yr psychological blueprint to pieces
that scatter in the Texas wind.
You sat there decomposing as I watched yr dress move
and expose the region you promised yr daddy
that no man would see until matrimony.
When I first knew you, you preached the bible
it lay beside yr ruddy toes
as you told me how men have been purchasing yr discounted body.
I listened and listened to yr dislocated words
yr ears resonating with crashing crack symbols
and amphetamine melodies
but I am not a good listener.
I heard they found her belongings in a small grassy patch by a pier overlooking the bay.
and I began thinking about all of the couples who spend lifetimes together and still find them not enough.
I thought of the hours stolen through the excessiveness of a generation
about how if we could only go back to the beginning
before backlots and buildings,
we could steal those hours back
and construct something of quality.
We are only as sick as our secrets
and baby, I’m hungry for yr health
I want to exorcise the demons from yr memory box.
So tell me about the time when you were seven and heard the creek creek of yr drunken father’s footsteps outside yr bedroom door/tell me why yr wrist bears the name Amy in elevated white scar tissue/I want to know why yr eyes turn black, yr heart stops beating when you hear a baby cry/tell me more about the time when you were twelve and chugged a whole bottle of Nyquil because it muffled yr ears from yr mother’s screams…
Instead you clench yr jaw, widen yr eyes, and reply:
“My memory box is empty”
the secrets have sprouted wings and flown away
from the vacant hole shaped like god.
She fills it now with camel cigarettes
twenty dollar bills, rolled up, with a little blood on one side
it lies to the left of the burnt cinder that was a heart
and north of the New Jersey landfill which was once a liver.
Her god-shaped memory box is lined with dark scribbles
and blacked-out photographs of every man who has ever been inside her
girlhood memories strewn about
like splintered matches left behind after a structure fire.
I heard it was an accident, but some suspected suicide.
and I began thinking about the lifespan of cavemen.
I guessed if the hours now prolonged but spent in scattered scrapbooks
were tallied up,
they might equal the same amount of time once spent outrunning the elements
and the inevitable.
I thought about timeglasses and wristwatches,
about how gravity is stepbrother of batteries.
I thought of stone and the age it encompassed,
and I wondered if any had survived the seasons,
ground down into individual flakes of sediment.
I imagined two great palms lifting a handful of sand to the sky
and letting it slip through slowly, centimeters at a time,
and I remembered,
I heard somewhere
that we are all timeless.