CRISTIN O’KEEFE APTOWICZ
are married. You know this. You were at their wedding. What they say
should land as if your dad said it, or your brother. None of it means harm:
the way you look in a pair of jeans, how long your lipstick lasts, how good
the oysters are, how fresh. Married men are the lead characters in the movie
of their marriage. They share top billing, but have earned their solo screen time.
I mean how else do you really get to know them, they say, if you don’t see
how they are without their wives? The long curve of their arms, or calves,
where their hands rest: on hips, or elbows, on waists. Married men lean forward
when they smile, and lean back when they laugh. After the party, they roam
the kitchen, offer to share with you a plate of re-heated hors d’oevres. You see it:
the still life of some other woman’s man, barefoot and drunk, hungry and alone.
The cat hisses at him. It’s his wife’s cat. It hates him, and for the life of him,
he can’t figure out why.
The Boston hotel room is clean and white.
The room is white, white, white, white.
The bus station I dragged in with my suitcase
still lingers. The linens are staring at me
in confusion: my dirty toothbrush, my sack
of books, my empty wallet. My heart is radio
interrupted by the static of my anxiety.
I have trouble keeping up a good connection.
I try not thinking of things all day long.
My heart is a radio that keeps jumping station.
My heart is a radio I can’t turn off.
Austin makes your face a pizza, dripping
with grease. August is a great time to move there,
because it can’t get any worse. This August is
a great time to move there because it couldn’t
get any worse. You open the door to our new
apartment without me. I am thirteen hundred
miles away. The apartment is hot. And small.
And big. And ours. There is a pool. There is
dog walking around the pool that is not ours.
There is no us there. Yet. You turn on faucets,
measure wall space in your mind. This place
will be a home, our home, a kiln where things
that were loose will harden.
Our future is really my future and your future,
two dogs that walk next to each other, two leashes
held by the same hand. We used to be able
to talk about these dogs: what they looked like,
how often they need to eat, if they were good
with strangers. Our year long experiment of
letting our dogs off their leashes has made them
strangers to us sometimes. We don’t know
where they go, or who they met. Some nights
they don’t come home at all, I picture our futures
dragging themselves across our yard, hit and broken.
But our futures come back, whole and stronger.
Our future whine and bark at the door in front
of them. You and I have put on our shoes, our hats,
we look at each other. We unhook their leashes.
We open the door.