Sweeter Than Any Silken Losses

oven birdWhat else could it have been, my little friend, that you had gone away so sweetly? The voyage to Mont Saint-Michel never occurred, and the northern sands of Carthage must, too, be blown away. Instead, some old snow shoes in a rusty shed had had to be returned, and I trekked the hills alone last February without you. I can’t even say that I had shown you even the smallest part of my record collection. Most of the things I grew you ate. Few of these I remember your hands, your fingers, planting beside mine. The cords of wood we stacked together, they were burned more than two winters ago. The chemises, silk camisoles, and dress I once bought for you are crammed on hangers with oddly fashioned jackets from the 80’s in my back closet where every so often I go inside and throw out whatever under plastic has grown any mold. Though I re-did by hand the gravel in my driveway for you and me, I think you pulled up beside my car once. I’ve even switched the side of the bed I sleep on; yours was so much firmer. I’m out of all sorts of things. Almond butter. Fish oil. Sardines. Walnuts. Hair conditioner. The reach up to the shelf to buy them is too high for me alone. And I do without them, do without you.

Vicktor B. Kruharth

dollar bill boy

There is no shame in being poor. One is spared having to make choices all the time. When one has money, one enters shops and stores and is always deciding this or that, or not this or not that. One is constantly making these sorts of decisions, deciding whether or not to buy the many things upon the shelves, things that wait there to be bought by my hands reaching up or by someone else’s. Whether to buy a pair of cashmere gloves or not. Because I like cashmere. Whether to buy a hand-made silk camisole from France for a lover. Because doing so is romantic, soft, and sexy. Whether to buy organic avocados. Because they taste best. In being poor I am free to wander in and out of stores. Hello, Tarik! And spend a half hour talking with him about his school days in North Africa. Hello, Suzy! And in between her holiday customers, I flirt with her only to flatter away the time, and do nothing else before leaving. It is such a relief! Everybody else is so busy with their noses in the classic or the best-seller books in bookstores they are reading and skimming with their noses deep in them for their boyfriends this year who will not be their boyfriends this time next year and they will have to put their noses in another book again the same way (making sure to only themselves—for who else would ever know?—that it is not the same book as last year, or the year or the boyfriend or the book before that) for all these different boyfriends, book after book, year after year. The floral- or fruit-scented bath soaps husbands must buy their wives which they do so out of a perennial symbol of the season’s obligation, whose failure to have done so would become a breach of custom tempting back-turned upon wordlessness at night (and no act of sex to indicate that all is well conjugally as it should be) before going to sleep, I am completely spared of too. If it is a new wife, so much the worse, and all the more difficult. Getting it right. Pleasing her. All is so fraught. I am spared it completely. I will wander on my own to the woods and with a bow saw cut down a small green tree since I cannot afford even to buy one from the local Christmas tree lot this year. And the sense of relief I feel from not having to make any of these choices this year to me is so great, I almost shudder when I remember, when I recall, having had lots of money once and being able to buy, had I wanted to, a fir tree twenty feet tall; had I wished to, buying expensive German designer shirts, and hand-crafted beeswax candles sweetly burning away my lost nights of love and languor. How free I am now that this gone. Gone! To be totally stripped of choice! To be in a position of cannot. All this is gone from me! When I wake, tomorrow I will walk alone across the causeway, my eyes looking across the flat wide open lake the wind has already passed over.

Henrietta di Bonaventura

cloudy house on bluff

I must go and buy some polka dots, or they will put me in the zoo. For purchase, I must sell the things I own. My only working timepiece meant less to me before than it does today. Goodbye, Movado! Goodbye, Cartier! Some shekels, I am sure, the latter will bring. But purple polka dots they don’t come cheap. Cheaply had, cheaply gone, is what my mother had once told me as a child. To buy them, I must sell away my clothes. And every stitch I had ever worn was the finest known. Off my back comes the crackling sharp cotton of my beloved Jil Sander, and gone in eBay boxes classic (but early) Issey Miyake. Now that I have nothing-to-nothing left, I’m ready and naked to venture to the market before noon. There, I have seen scarlet, mauve, and chocolate. If only I could find a pair of knee-length pantaloons, and not confuse my mind between the difference between britches and breaches. Penniless, crumbless, I see the cotton candy clowns coming straight away for me. They’re at the outskirts now of the baseball court, the tennis field, the squash encomium of my lovelorn ways. And I will be willingly and unwillingly carried away to my woodland fiefdom where every material known to Man will have been sucked clean out of me, like bilge from a pump, and once again to be the blue-eyed animal infrequent visitors gawk at when they come and toss me a saltine cracker.



Midnight Cowboy Sleeping Underwater

western grass and sky

There was some Western, some movie on last night. But he didn’t know what it was. Something hanging by a noose or a noose with somebody’s name on it pinned to a tree. At any rate, he didn’t know. He just woke up in the same clothes he’d gone to sleep in. And he didn’t know it. He didn’t know that. He just woke up turned ninety degrees body around in bed in the same black morning darkness he always woke up in. Except that he was all dressed already. And they were nice clothes. Nice pants, nice shirt, and a nice moleskin jacket. He didn’t know how’d it happened. It just did. That’s all there was to it. Now he knew and remembered that he’d been discouraged that night before. Everything was pretty much shipwreck. But that’d never stopped him, not from watching some old Western where men mete out either death or life according to some ad hoc game among the tumbleweed and dirt they play by and by, each man and each gun according to each man and each gun’s rules. And he kind of liked that a lot. No, he damn well liked that. A world where life itself isn’t ever held to be the summum bonum. Heck, no. It was how a man lived was how a man died. Which was always for good watching when he was feeling low and pretty ruined, which could have been that that did it, even to him. But he’d always felt some notice before. Some clanging and whooping some doomed submarine’s hollering wail or the fatal sounds of Comanche warriors swarming down the silhouetted embankments that meant one thing. The night before? That was just a silent night. Sleeping into the ether death or sleep or whatever spent dreams there were during those lost hours. Well, hell, he just got up as though it had been a regular night and didn’t bother to shower or shave. He was too finely dressed to change out, and the clothes were warm. He just got going with a fresh pot of coffee, a good, solid breakfast, and headed out to walk the day as he walked every and any day, past the garden, past the newly fallen dead white birch at the back, and straight up his own mountain, up the steep pitch where the sun and the ferns and the old brown leaves and the chips of half-broken bluestone and the old farmers’ low stone walls belonging to nobody always were when he went there that time of day.