She put it to the back of a wardrobe, in a bag of mismatched things, none of any use these days but none the sort you throw away. The sort you keep until they’re found by curious small hands cooped up by the rain on window panes. Discovering you before them.
Some days I don’t need a husband I need scaffolding. So I can tend to the broken, the busted windows the cracking paint, the guttering that doesn’t drain when the rain comes in and all the sediment circling the drain but never quite clearing. Some days I need that from you, and nothing more.
Half this family tree has been watered until the branches hang heavy with fruit. We know all the name, if not the faces, see the resemblance in the variety. On the other side we know much less, can’t quite feast on what is left. There are wanderers in this blood, apples that fell far and wide and distant. Strangers in stranger places bobbed, grew their own trees from loose cores. People put down roots, grew branches, spread the distance between lines.
Cup the whole of me in one hand. Hold my belly up to a light, judge my origins, if I might be the real deal. Examine my spine carefully through this sheen of skin while I burn like paper, edges curling in as I smoke. Test the me between teeth, bite down, heads up, crack your enamel on my silver forked tail. Spit me free with blood and tooth and every question asked to test the mettle in me. Wonder why I leave with a word like love so sour in my mouth I choke.
We walk till our soles protests at every stop-sign and crossing place. Like stitch splitting when you slow for breath, the burn thickens. We are far from home, further still from familiar, so we cannot pause on this side-street, or linger on a corner place as we might do elsewhere. We can stretch our steps, gnash the concrete paves into cobbles and pathways. Break highways down to track. Trip over the ache beneath onto older ground. Learn how to read reassurances of new landmarks. Wander until this is home.
Flesh parts so easily when pressure is applied. Tongues often prove more effective than crowbars. They break past words like ‘No’.
Fire-dwarfed we all sit, stand, wait, drawing along timelines scythe-eyed for news or perhaps revelation that this is all just a dream, a joke. Dust-tongued our words dry up like sand through an hour glass. All gone and past leaving only empty air. A promise cracked apart. History pour out, breaks the damn of grief and dark-vowelled words, replacing now with then as what will be already spread its roots in the tear-culled.
She was legs, hips, breasts, and bone. Same as a cow, worth less perhaps. Dredged up words from the dark well of your mouth, not ancient, just old. “Ace” a hiss, curled around the syllable. Careful, you are wearing history with no place here. Tonight’s Quadrille prompt from the bar is the word ‘Ace’. I did a bit of a google search and discovered that in the middle ages, the word ‘ace’ could be used to be ‘of no worth’ or ‘bad luck’.
If I was her I would be somewhere else. A marathon in front of where I am now and the path would not look so broken. I would know how to walk it without creasing at the knees, each time the ground shakes. I would be someone worth taking a chance on.
I’m weighing words. Counting them like beach glass. Trying to judge how you might distort the light through them. Most I will slip back inside my hollow throat. Swallow, like tablets or seeds. Ignoring the fizz as they hit my gut, sprout up, and wrap around anything else there is to say.