How cold I feel
I worked upstairs for about an hour after dinner, printing page sets (R had offered to fold pages for me tomorrow) and starting to typeset Sarah’s chapbook. Realizing it was getting dark, I remembered the laundry. When I got downstairs, R was drooling on the futon, holding another can. He must have bought it at the grocery today. Which is why he said not to worry about it when I asked what the bill had been so I could pay my half: he didn’t want me to see what he’d bought.
The blinds were open. Anyone walking or driving by could see into the apartment, see him doing harm to himself. I closed them. Whaa-aaa-aaarrr-doong?
I’m going to finish the laundry, I said, enunciating louder than usual because I didn’t know how much his brain could register.
Uhh-uhh-uhh-kaay. . .
I went next door. P’s boys were lying on the floor in the back room, B helping A with his algebra homework. I folded clothes from the dryer. My chest began to hurt: a tight band squeezing my ribs. The clothes were in two piles. I took the first one home and set them on the massage table that R keeps opened in the dining room for giving Reiki. I heard him moan. That meant he was still alive. Then the bang of the can dropping to the floor. I waited a few seconds then walked into the living room. He didn’t seem to know I was there. I picked up the can, ice cold, and carried it into the kitchen. Sadie’s empty dog food bag was still under the counter. I dropped the can into it and carried the bag out to the trash cans. Went back up the walk and next door to retrieve the rest of the laundry. The boys had moved into their living room. P was asking if A needed help with his math. J was in the kitchen, getting a glass of water. I gathered the rest of the clothes and left.
As I sorted the clothes into mine and his, I heard the futon squeak, then louder. He was getting up. I turned to hurry out. He must have seen me going out the back door. He called my name, twice. I walked down the steps off the deck, turned sharply left, and headed toward the front gate. The moon was up, brilliant, full, rising above the empty street. The lights were on at S’s house and one of her cats was in the front window. I could hear P and J talking in the house—I was standing just under the living room window—and realized I couldn’t just open the gate and walk away. I had no shoes on. It was growing chilly. I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. My wallet and keys were back inside the house; I couldn’t even go sit in my car.
I leaned my arms on the fence and pressed my head into them and tried to breathe.
After a minute, I walked through the back yard to the chaise lounges and sat in one. Looked up at the evening sky. Jittery plane lights seemed at first to skip around until I discerned the planes’ diagonal trajectories, one after another following the same directional path. I could go to Cincinnati and not come back. But I can’t. I’ve been emptying one or two boxes every Saturday, trying to throw things away and get the rest under control, but it’s not under control; it’s not organized and won’t be for some time. Even if I could afford to move, I wouldn’t be ready for months.
I think I’m waiting for him to kill himself. I don’t know who to call. I don’t know how to stop him. He is alone for most of the day while I’m at work, twelve hours alone on the days I go to the gym, and has opportunity and means to do this out of sight. What does it mean that he is doing it where I’ll see, where anyone walking by will see?
I’m horrified by how cold I feel each time I find him this way. All the faith and hope I’ve tried to place in him since the last time (since the reset is how I think of it: clearing the slate, starting from zero, trying again to establish trust) is obliterated by that hissing sound. I hear it in my sleep and don’t know any more if I’m dreaming. I think I’m going to come home any day and find him dead. I don’t know where my anger has gone since the horrible fight we had over this a few months ago, when I screamed and beat at him, grabbed every book off the shelf in my room and threw them at him, boxes of page sets from my chapbooks flying and exploding, the coffee mug crashing a perfect circle into the plaster above my bed. Some—most—of that wreckage is still scattered over the floor. I wanted it to remind him of his promise to stop, but he’s made and broken that promise over and again since our fight. What’s left for me to feel?
I left work a bit early—2:30—so I could come home and get off my feet for a bit before taking Sadie to her vet appointment at 4:40. R came along. It took much longer than usual; we were still waiting at 5:30 for the vet to come back from having taken a swab from Sadie’s ear. But then it was a fairly hasty wrap-up: another ear infection, another skin infection, more steroids, more antibiotics, and $120 I happened to have in my account thanks to money Mom sent to help with my trip to Cincinnati later this month.
Dropped Sadie off, changed clothes, and went out for Chinese. I need to work on chapbooks and just wanted to get dinner over with, but it was surprisingly good.
Email from Ellen that she’s sending back her proof corrections via mail, which means there’s no way I’ll be able to get chapbooks out to her in time for her reading on (I think) the 15th, though she didn’t actually mention that event in our correspondence; I just happened to see it on FB. (Also a reading that RJ is doing this Saturday, and of course I owe him copies.) I’m trying to juggle it all but the number of commitments is staggering.
R helped by folding 20 page sets today, and I really appreciate that—it lets me go straight to trimming and sewing the folios as long as I have covers ready, and I’ve been trying to glue those every night so I have a good supply at hand.
Back to the vet bill: R said he’s like to split the bill, but I said he’s the one who actually has to handle giving Sadie her meds, so I thought it would be fair if I paid the bill. He then offered to pay $50, or rather, for me to hold back from paying him the $50 I usually do on Friday, to which I agreed.
It’s been months since I’ve written a poem. I’d really like to pick up the Catches & Stays project. I think it could be a good collection. We’ll see if I get any writing time while I’m on vacation.
Tonight I finished trimming ten copies of Michael’s chapbook and got 8 of them tied (two to go on this batch).
Must do: Need to tie ten copies, if at all possible, of Steven’s chap this weekend; he’s waited way too long for them.
from Erin Bertam’s Inland Sea:
The body is wondrous, but it’s only a vessel. [“Lovely Suits”]
this is the upside of tension [“In Her Shadow”]
In your left hand, an anvil. [“Pretending We’re Twins”]
Recurring dream involving my penis in my hand: I mean, detached, cut off, but still functional, a live thing. Shame at not having it attached where it’s supposed to be. David in the dream ,having sex with some chubby guy, all this in a hotel (?) with two bathrooms. Lots of crossing paths. Raw meat in the sink.
Mom fell on Saturday. Sandra says nothing’s broken but definitely a sprained knee and lots of pain.