She lies on a bed of stones, bruised by feathers, worn by the turning of clock hands. Her forehead is creased with troubled sleep, her mouth twitching the beginning of words. She’s dreaming. Maybe of crumbling buildings or white rooms with no doors, or beds without pillows. She never remembers the details, wakes with tension in her neck, a crowded head.
She drinks tequila for breakfast in tiny shot glasses, wipes sweat from her face, and waits for her husband to bring home beads for her neck, a poem, a blood orange. He is gone a long time. She unwraps ornaments from newspaper, curls her hair in rags, pinches her cheeks to give them colour. She wishes she could split one half of her from the other – sit in out-of-town bars, soak her skin in alcohol, lie with men who have coarse stubble and rough hands. She would wrap herself in their sweat, see if her husband noticed.
Instead she rubs her skin with lychees, lets her curls tumble onto her shoulders and waits barefoot. He comes home tired, but drawn to her. He kisses her cheek then pulls back, with questions on his lips. He tells her she tastes of lost summers and a trip to the beach once when they were first lovers.
First published in Winter Hands (Shadow Train Books, 2007).
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