David Dodd Lee ~ Two Bronze Figures Near the Ocean

Her hair some­times sailed on her. She was a point in the dis­tance, as if the entire uni­verse had poured from a con­ver­gence. She thought, It’s just as well.

     Hardwick under­stood her, if he were also some­times spar­tan in the extreme, bare pots stored in bare unpa­pered cab­i­nets. Once again, he watched as she was absorbed, turned to vapor in some oth­er sphere. Her hair, tak­en up into hands by some fair maid­en, could be twined into a rope from bed to win­dow. It flut­tered inside the wind tun­nel. 

     Hardwick some­times brushed it. He also killed scor­pi­ons, watched them com­bust, too quick to get a stinger in his eye. They’d burn on the sand like a pack of match­es. 

     As they were get­ting ready to kiss, the sum of their per­sons came fly­ing in from sev­er­al direc­tions. Can you imag­ine such a con­nec­tion, a thun­der­storm rag­ing but silent, no clue from the out­side what is hap­pen­ing on the inside of the human body? 

     She some­times dreamed her name was Rhonda instead of Chantel, a freck­le-faced, buck- toothed girl who’d grown up in a trail­er park. In the dis­tance, she’d some­times fall over, a knick-knack on a paint­ed shelf. Hardwick might use his intel­li­gence to con­trol the lack of a ther­mo­stat.

     Together they’d become more than them­selves, which was one way of avoid­ing the self-incrim­i­na­tion of the seashell mir­ror. They’d just stare at each oth­er and chew. Eventually undress.

     One day Chantel had to return to work.

     “I’m afraid if I leave I will nev­er come back,” Chantel said. “Meeting you has been a mixed bless­ing.”

     He was hold­ing onto the top they’d found in a field full of bro­ken crock­ery from the 19th cen­tu­ry, and he spun it on the wal­nut table. It made a rack­et like bone rolling on bone. He poured milk into his tea, lis­ten­ing for her voice, a trick­le in his ear. 

     He palmed the spin­ning top when he heard her again, just wind in the trees. 

     “Perhaps some time away, some clar­i­ty,” she remem­bered say­ing, or he remem­bered her say­ing it. He sipped his tea. She’d begun to fade. He slow­ly opened the enor­mous wood door, afraid of what he might find out­side.

     The Spanish moss blow­ing side­ways as if in a dream.

~

David Dodd Lee is the author of ten books of poet­ry, as well as a forth­com­ing book of col­lages and poet­ry enti­tled Unlucky Animals. Four ways Books pub­lished his book of poems, Animalities, in 2014. He writes and makes visu­al art and kayaks in Northern Indiana, where he lives on the St. Joseph River. He is Associate Professor of English at Indiana University South Bend.