These gifts then, that I have sent? You don’t need them, of course. They are for the rest of us, to see what you make of them. For me. For us.
I remember him on a night like this but warmer, the moon shimmying down the black lake. He drinks and wanders from room to room. The blanket is on the floor, breathing softly. Men in exile owe so many letters. Now he is weeping – improbable. Every night around this time I put on desire like an old coat. I wonder from room to room.
The problem with loving an older man is beauty. Your body is cruel, he used to say. No your body is cruel. Watch as he slips like a whelk into uncomplaining quiet. Listen to the sound of the waves in mourning.
It is always better for the man to love you more.
This is cruel maybe.
One humid day in August I was proud to have killed a carpenter ant. I let out a hoot. An ant with wings, I marveled. I went to show him what I had done. I just killed a very large bug, I said, the napkin in my hand. See? Look. He continued to cut lettuce as if he had heard nothing. I dropped the carcass on his bare foot, white as mayonnaise. Look, I said.
“It chagrins me much to say this, dear, but over time I have come to realize that romantic love is much overrated.”
I laughed thinly. I thought it ought to have been funny – a joke I didn’t understand just yet.
There is a theorem I am fond of. It says one thing can never truly touch another, the space between being an infinity of halves. You see you always have yet to cross half the remaining distance.
This is how mathematicians speak of longing.
In botany a cluster of flowers is called an inflourescence. A bloom outside this cluster is called a solitary flower. On the banana plant it is called the heart.