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.