She Was Moist
The woman had moist. Damp pod inside. Intimate times, she was boiled snow pea slick. Months post meeting, couldn't form a sentence. So directly affected by her, did I was. Even after "the complication," I sometimes went "yit yit yit" and "jit jit jit." On account of her humidity. But she absorbed the pain and gave off aseptic smiles, which stopped us. Current problem: I had raked the leaves into a pile. While she bitched, the leaves kept falling. Was I supposed to know piles of leaves aggravated her?
In the beginning we wanted heaven, pounding each other like felt piano hammers. Then we wanted her brindled hair inserted into vases, dragged across legs, brilliantined, photographed. We also wanted fresh blood in a deerskin pouch, hand cream in a rubber glove. We wanted commercially. Spinally. Greatly between the legs. In a desperate way. (Clandestinely).
"All right, all right, all right, already!" (This is me perched on the peach basket, near the pile of leaves.) "For starters, you've bled me twelve different ways and mongered the plasma from traffic isles during morning rush hour. And another thing: I have a soul, all right, so don't go calling me a demon to all your sassy friends. And another thing, I'm very strong. My hands are coordinated muscle fingers. Thinking and unthinking. Should I sip sip sip it against you."
"Oh, you're one to talk," she said. She unfurled her fingers, slowly, over her stupid campfire.
"And another thing: Why a campfire in the middle of the goddamn suburbs when you've got every gadget known to man?"
"Huh," she said, sitting on a rock, which bordered the empty garden. She raised fires there. Rock made a stool.
Lengthwise we were fine. Alternatively, we fit. She broached so many topics it was ridiculous. Do you think we could talk about the way your hair hangs? Do you think we could set aside a time to discuss the process by which seeds become plants? Have you ever had an urge to photosynthesize just for ten or twelve seconds every six or seven years? She broached so many topics, always a topic that no one could be concerned with. Do you think egg whites would make a good shaving cream? What about egg yolks?
Our love happened mightily, under the palm trees, Bora Bora, designer swim suits, honeymoon ribs that could kill. We detachable and brainless, undulating on the warm salty waves. Something like the pH of a womb. Talk. Crawl. In reverse order. She had faculties. She could grow a new version of us. She played up the magic of gestation. "I'm a shaman," she said. "Give me your liver."
"Oh, so now it's my liver." Ectomy.
"So then it's your liver."
"Let me ask you something: Why are you always eating caramels? And another thing: Why are you always making shakes with milk, fruit juices, and real fruit? And another thing: Are those your feet? Hey, give me those. Those are mine! Damn it! Hey, you watch it or maybe I'll get revenge. That's enough. I said stop it!"
Fungible. Her face decreased as the day went on until nightfall she was only a chin. I imagined the features north of her lips and loved her just the same. "You're so moist," I said one time.
"Don't lay that trip on me," she said, and rolled away.
Her brindled hair naturally formed nests so she combed it an hour a day. Her hair gradually balled up, planetwise. Meanwhile, her topics unscrolled. She kept telling me things out of the blue, things that no one could ever conceive of saying and that could not be responded to in any way: "straighten your shirt," "make more noise when you enter a room," "touch your own face less often." Always a topic that wore down my willingness, not to mention my very ability, to make any sense at all, on that topic or on any other possible topic. Believe me: it was a minute-to-minute struggle to be articulate in such a damp environment. Next to all this I had a vision: Me on a hillside. Somehow the nations assembled below. Every creed and color. What did they want from me? Who were all of us? How did it shake down that I was the greatest human being on earth? Was I missing something?
Our love was licit and, by the way, it was also fractured and unholy. Sometimes when I think about the jobs we had at that time. How good they were and what lengths we went to jit to understand them, to perform our functions. If an idea could break a man. I never said what I felt; nothing I ever said sounded like how I yit.
My wife was a. Some things seemed to move just because we looked at them. Take that pile of leaves. That pile seemed to quiver when she made an issue out of it.
"What if something happens?" she said.
"It's just a pile of leaves."
We had child once, only it lodged in her fallopian tube.
Always so quick to solicit the spirits. In our neighborhood, seances were frowned upon, yet she was always flying flyers, posting posters. She considered herself a medium. She claimed every mother was a medium for the spirit of her children because mothers are the portals of the spirit into this world. Her stillborn son, she said he was caught in the veil. She had to communicate with him. My plan had been to help her.
"Why'd you have to rake that pile of leaves?" she started back in. "Why do you have to breathe so much air? It's like living with a bellows. Your hair seems misplanted on your head. Why don't you plow it under and sow something fresh? Why are you always putting on deodorant?"
"Why don't you get a wheelbarrow and carry your sorrows to some field way the fuck out there and just bury them? Why don't you just--"
"Because you're always such a shit." Tears took off from her cheeks and floated in the air like dandelion seeds.
"Oh, but merely raking the leaves..."
Beneath the pilings. Her ocean sucked and withdrew. I thought no it couldn't be she was Mother Ocean on the half-shell. She ran the servants at her father's hacienda like so many cattle. When our jobs weren't so hard we would go down there and ride his Arabians and sport fish on his boat, The Red Tree. We almost drowned one day while we napped and a storm came up; we couldn't do shit against it. The storm blew over before we had put on our slickers. Then there was the time we crystallized. She had a mood that we each completely understood. She said she felt as if she were dissolving and did I know exactly what the melting point of copper was. Why? "Because I've got some copper in me," she said, "and I think it has to get really hot to melt, so I think I'm all right. I'll never totally liquify."
Somebody once said that in between this moment and the next there is always a lapsing. There it was, lapsing on the grass. The sun slunk behind the hill. She kicked dirt over her fire, wiped her hands on her pants.
"Moist," I murmured. And said jit. The gold leaves tumbled from the trees. The pile of leaves seemed to lift in a kind of inverted sympathy.
"I think you should answer me one question," she said. "Did you want the baby to die? Did you think it would ruin our marriage?"
"I thought it would bring us closer," I said. yit yit
She saw only sarcasm, which meant things had come to an unholy end. I thought never to feel what. There was this sense, I think, as she went for the rake, that time-spent-together had been waiting with its breath sucked in, ready to release a whistling laugh. She picked up that rake and came after me. She chased me with the rake, around and around that pile of leaves, avoiding the pile like it was a bottomless well. I'd still be running if the three-year-old neighbor kid I had planted there in the pile--out of something misconceived, desperate, stupid, perverse (this being the anniversary of the embryo's death)--if the little kid hadn't popped his head out of the pile of leaves, spastic for clean breath, blue in the face.
"I'm sorry!" he gasped, for I had threatened him about prematurity without knowing when his presence would be due.
The next moment we were all three on our backs, sort of falling into the sky.
My wife hasn't had a realization since. Much less sentence. She has a bazillion discrete bits of reality in her "in" box. She'll get to them, I guess. When we read the paper together, I have to establish the meaning of all the words. Maybe I've learned this much: never try to orchestrate someone else's cathartic seance. Maybe have I would and. I'd like to say she's become more dependent on me, but she's always signaling, I can do it, I can do it. And this with a rake in her hand. Ready to scatter me if I lay my hand to something.
Andy Mozina teaches creative writing and literature at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.