A Hundred Gourds 5:3 June 2016

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page 7  

Seánan Forbes - US/UK


She thinks about her father sometimes. His slow smile, his swift fists, the sad and thoughtful face he presented to the world, the sweet lull of his lies. For years, she held herself single, even solitary. She moved from one city to another, tending a garden of uprooting. Nothing scares her off like closeness. Her college friends built bridges. Built, rebuilt, old stones, old lines, new. They swept through men, women, matchmakers, lawyers, matchmakers again. O, they of endless faith. The anti-Valentine, she stayed an atheist of the heart.

dark of the night
she slips from his bed
to the airport
a dandelion
in a changing wind

Colleagues, cousins, friends seeking to mend lives that are not their own . . . conspiracies of coincidence, persuasion, and opportunity see her settling. It happens almost without her. When, for the first time, she crosses the borders of cohabitation, they give her a bridal wealth of toasters, dishware, crystal, shrink-wrapped linens. She marks it as the detritus of divorce, says many a polite thank you, helps her boyfriend paints the wall, feather her first shared nest. He wants shared bank accounts. She shelters portions of her funds. He wants children. She thinks about an implant, gets an IUD. Gets pregnant. Sees her doctor. Keeps her silence. He wants. He wants her slimmer, nicer to his mother, kindlier to his many friends, more pliant in his bed. He wants. How much he wants. The more he wants, the more she finds herself bone-built for resistance. One summer morning, over coffee, he slings a slow look across the table. His lips curve in a smile that slices ice into her spine.

third anniversary
her boyfriend casts
her father’s shadow

Alone again. A small space; few possessions. She could pack it all into a trunk, a backpack, and a duffle bag. She has thirty pounds to lose, and has never felt lighter. She broke the contract, lost the man, shed her life in weekend sales, put their home and city far behind her, kept the prophylactic, just in case. The single bruise has long-since faded. At work, where she is not supposed to know that that she has a nickname -- The Nun – invitations to coffee, drinks, celebrations fade, diminish, desiccate, rise in the dust of time and blow away. Her door has three locks. Her heart has more. She eases into wholeness, finds herself happy, answers to no one. Without thought or planning, she sets pale tendrils in the land, feels the world grow strong around her. Her father has not touched her memory in years. These days, a smile is nothing but a passing sweet. She had not known that she was seeking, but her search is done.

at the edge of the meadow
a flawless marble
the lost revealed
by dandelions
in cross-blown winds

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