Your Husband Says Let's Try Something New
—after The Lovers by Rene Magritte (1928)
after your anniversary dinner, a bit of Bordeaux still aging on the corner of your mouth. In the restaurant’s dim corner he frisked
the top button of your dress undone, its plastic clicking against the gold wedding band. His hand a half-formed promise counting the dips
of your spine. You offered yourself up right then, plated, drizzled with need under the table. Your pantyhose, decoration. His fingers
dipped into the chocolate sauce on your plate then paused at your bottom
lip’s altar and you wanted to be the pen he signed the check with, an instrument to do his bidding. At home, he refused to be uncollared,
untied. Left in his cufflinks. Said the night was about how far you could go without going, or coming. Said close your eyes. A few anniversaries ago you opened a slim jewelry box and found
a leather eye mask slumbering in velvet. So we can truly be ourselves in the dark, as he slid it over your head. His body a new body in that manmade night—a hunter gone prey to the beast he hoped you would become. Now, he crowns you with the elastic band once again, the leather’s edge biting a curve into the bridge of your nose. Imagine we’re both someone else, he whispers, guiding your hand
to the gill of his boxers. A few seconds of clumsiness, teeth clicking, the choppy unzipping. Your husband changing shape in your grip, your name changing shape in the air between the two of you. Imagine we’re someone else—as he breathes someone else’s
name, asks another woman for mercy you will not give.
Conversion | On Cincinnati's Converted Churches, God, and Lucifer
The other day I almost felt the burden of sin in Urban Outfitters (church of mark-ups, house
of worship for pretenders, the suburban teens masquerading as city-born). A blouse
on a rack arrests the gem-light from the rose
window, anemic sunlight dribbling through
stained glass, re-pressing new designs. Transpose
Jesus onto The Grateful Dead, skeletons toe-
to-toe and Our Lord and Savior kneeling, washing
their metatarsals. The mannequins wear it better here, their pseudo-sockets watching me mime their poses. Fiberglass arms bare
in tank tops. Legs half-lunging. One foot in pointe
like a disciple’s, for me to kiss. Anoint.
Like a disciple, for me to kiss (anoint) your face is to mark you for betrayal. Coffee
cups and carafes, my lipstick print disjoined
from the trellised skin—I leave behind a copy
of my mouth at cafés. I find a shop that sells lattes and tea in the sanctuary, plays old rap songs that would clatter like shotgun shells
in a Sunday service’s silence. During the weekdays,
the college kids forget themselves and burn their tongues on dark roasts, mochas spilled, say shit
and cross themselves with a caffeinated finger- gun to the head, the chest, the shoulders. I sit
and mouth the Father, Son, the Holy Spirit
with every touch, on beat, like a rap song lyric.
With every touch—on beat like a rap song lyric—
my phone works less and less. The tell-tale check
of Verizon Wireless bums on its side; a satyric
smirk in vermillion, devil-red. At the tech
desk, the employee tests my touchscreen sensors. He says it’s almost gone, you’ll need to upgrade. I let him rob me. His voice resounds from the center
of the store as if he’s preaching the terms of the trade-
in, rules like commandments. Forty dollars a month
to hear another voice, for someone other than God to speak to me. One hundred up front to kill the loneliness, to call my mother
some days. Siri records and keeps my confession; Forgive me father, for all our missed connections.
Forgive me father, for all our missed connections— my late-night pillow-prayer. I’ve avoided going to church for months now, my collection of excuses practiced, preached right back. I’m loaded
with bullshit, Sunday morning sermons spent
in bed, damning myself for sleeping too late.
But I never set the alarm. At night, I repent
by kneeling bedside, all my body’s weight
branding my knees with the carpet’s pattern. My comforter clings to the dryer’s heat. I say Let me explain, Lord, but it doesn’t matter. We’ve been here before—last week, the other day
when my tongue played Judas and betrayed me, slipped
and cursed mid-prayer, abandoned the usual script.
And cursed! Mid-prayer! Abandoned the usual script