Her teeth are so small they remind one of children's teeth.
This woman I have thought about in a special way for nearly a year--she went home. She felt the cold blow over her. She hurried in from the heat, called this boyfriend of hers, said, "I'm home. Will you come over now?"
Her apartment often overflows with cold. Someone must fix the thermostat before we freeze in here.
Before we freeze.
This boyfriend hurried over to shake her softly to the music, to follow her around, to tug her down fast to the floor and--look, I don't want to think about what they do next.
He puffs out in the middle, is small. I never got a good look at him. He's not pretty. He looks like me.
I just go on, and on, and on.
For a long time I lived by myself. I still do. What's odd is I never learned the right way to pronounce the name of my street (Vernice), and I get shit--perhaps unfairly--from fellows who do--who did. What's strangest is I can tell that my dog, unlike most people, loves it when I hug her. She is an assortment of breeds. This, that, this, another. Her hair is all sorts of colors--chestnut, some sort of vermillion, really violent sepia, that last one perhaps most prominent, grown all over her fur in spots and swallow-me holes. Does that indicate anything?
Still wondering where I am right now?
Her name is Desiree. I mean, the dog. I love her so goddamn much.
This woman--I'm waiting to slip up and say her name--turns her tongue up. Her tongue is especially long and slim, red and slick. This tongue, she coils it like a corkscrew. What she does next is somebody else's concern. That's reserved for the next time someone bears witness--will someone please get her out of here before I lose it?
He--the boyfriend for whom, my knuckles poised for the pause, I got swapped--comes outside because I am waiting out there by myself. I am just waiting out here and I am not yelling. Here he comes, shrilling, over to tough, listening me, arms folded on the sidewalk.
He has on his parka because it's so cold in there even though it's so hot out here, so blue and sunny.
I feel so blue.
He comes outside and he tells me to go away. He socks me a few times in my knotty gut till I drop what I'm holding. It spills on the hot concrete. I don't feel so dangerous any more--I don't feel like such a threat, like a ticking--what the hell am I? Will someone please come and get me, for the love of--how about now? How about now? Now?
I'm waiting out here, and I am just waiting.
I look at her looking out the window, me curling into myself on the ground. Sun surfs up my cold, cold sweat. I release a shiver--can you forgive me for all of those dozing-off moments?
This heat is getting to me. I'm starting to lose touch. I crawl into old holes.
"Look," I say, out there. "Listen."
They're watching something. It's one of those foreign movies. She's got her head lolling in his lap. It's cold. She's got him hard in her fist.
No she doesn't. Fuck him.
She whispers at him while he sleeps.
"Mark," she whispers, because that must be his name. He stutters up--he says one of those words that sound like, "Huh?"--and grabs more sheets.
"I'm so sorry you had to see that," she says. "Bug," she says. She calls him that.
"Look," she says.
The sun's setting up the sky outside. She bears her teeth and breathes in.
They meet for coffee in the afternoon. She sits at this table, waiting for him, and plashes coffee around in her mouth. Plash is a word she taught me.
He sits down at this table while they are still young. He hunches forward.
"Listen," she says. "Will you accept my apology?" she says.
He brings out a big, gleaming ring and waves it around.
"Will you marry me?" he says.
She snatches his coffee-warm hand across the table--not the one with the ring.
It gets messy.
Look: if you need me, which you won't, I'll be lapping the shore with each day's debris; I'll buy flights to the most ecstatic cities, I'll take them when I'm not unwanted--if you need me, here I come to bury you. If I've had a heart hard about all this, and a softer stomach--well, let me tell you a thing or two about mistaking me for Mark. Because I happen to understand what happens when all of the electricity on a block goes out, goes black, and one loses even the landline--my land-mine. Maybe next year. Maybe some other servant, some next September, in South Dakota, when I get better, when I'm off the sidewalk. Maybe next year, when I'm here, and I haven't lost everything.
Maybe when I have.
I lift her up in my arms.