looking at her naked body so much that it has become a religion for her. Thou
shalt not. No full-frontals in the mirror that hangs on the back of the closet
door like an obnoxious guest who flaunts house rules. No looking down, chin on
chest, toward the breasts striated with fatigued cellulite, or to the mounded
belly that blocks the view down toward the toes. Or so she imagines; she dare
not look. Looking would make her physically ill as well as distracted, and then
she’d be no good to anybody. Hence the Commandment: She shall not.
She shall not
appear naked in front of the bathroom mirror while brushing her teeth. She
shall not regard the flesh while reaching for a towel after a shower.…
Fall approaches. The novel scurries into corners, a rat-like beastie, and you attempt to slip the leash back on. You know this book will kill you in these next months, where the light fades and days shorten into stunted, despairing winter.
1. Smarmy with self confidence, you read the first draft for the English Department in your Thursday seminars. You discover “experimental” does not mean “entertaining.” Lined up like the Supreme Court, they purse their mouths like sucking lemon juice through straws. They suck all your optimism away.
2. In your epic novel of a prisoner-of-war camp, you discover your depraved commandant is a Roman Catholic. Your publisher, Holy Trinity College of San Luis Obisbo, won’t like this. Oh no! The commandant is gay.
when you burned down my house i tried to rebuild: monuments of soot trampled beliefs trying to pull meaning from the inside of a cedar tree and i carved. i carved you, next to a motherless god, a wifeless god, a god that poured fires over still waters and begged to be left alone behind a curtain, gold rods and gold seams fraying at the end like the veins that tied me to you, kept us sprouting branches instead of scorched forest, the center of the earth crumbling into itself a dead leaf; a home turned skeleton.