Learning Curve

To claim the affection of someone who you pretend is dead is to be loved into perpetuity. I am accustomed to losing layers over time and I made the recommended changes long ago. Newsprint fingers are a thing of the past and for all I care world events can float through me like the radiation from our first color television set that my father wheeled proudly through our front door on the old wooden dolly. My brother told me everyone wore green makeup on TV , I lie I inexplicably still believe. Then, like now, Technicolor and dimensionality mesmerized me. When I first met you I thought the broad base of your feet were a bought and signed for foundation to the future and then I learned how much legroom a normal-sized person is allotted on a Greyhound bus with a one-way ticket. I was the best black sheep in the family, all Peter Pan collars, sensible shoes and wishful thinking. I was jealous of deferential women who cleaned the fingernail dust behind them, and those who desired nothing more than collecting decorative rocks for the homemade grotto, a place for radical worship and feverish sacrifice. A few years ago, the honeymoon resort turned out their 40-watt bulbs, drained the diseased heart-shaped tubs and padlocked the pine-knotted doors. It was a place that reminded me of all of the weather phenomena of my youth: a lot of hullabaloo and empty promises. The currents of wind not withstanding, the plaster of Paris Virgin Mary hums the first tonal bars of the Ave Maria, and the red fox that roams the neighborhood ovulates under the full moon. I ask for all the wrong things when I pray. I break the tablet in two. Sleep with one half under my pillow where all my wishes are dying stars. The other under my serrated edged tongue. Wake when I blink. Kiss me anyway.

Michelle Reale is an Associate Professor at Arcadia University. She is the author of 5 collections of poetry including the forthcoming The Marie Curie Sequence from Dancing Girl Press. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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