If you speak to me at all, you speak only in nouns. Alimony. Mortgage. Didi's karate lessons. Danielle's pottery class. The Volvo and the Lexus. The golf clubs. The antique grandfather clock, the Westwood china and crystal, the Millenium Photography Series. We bargain over objects, if only to keep you across the table, talking to me.

If you lean over, it is to the man on your right, your new best friend, your confidante, defender of your honor, your zealous advocate.

If you look at me, you do not look at my hands, you do not see that my palms are open, white side up.

And yet, I want to tell you about the splicing of words into daguerreotypes, these original photographs without negatives, collapsing upon themselves into nothing so elaborate. Do you feel the wind in my words, the way it used to be?

I want to tell you that last week when I drove up to pick up my fishing rod, you were taking out the trash, and I thought how the world has smeared you and sunk your shoulders, telescoping into two years ago, the way you screamed and screamed on the hospital floor, like you were three years old again, not caring that your hospital gown had fallen around your shoulders, revealing such angry muscles, tunneling further, to nights when I come home and try to slide up close to you and you turn away mumbling, even in your dreams, softer, softer now, planing to Danielle, emerging blue and purple, and they thought she was a goner for sure, but you hum Baa baa black sheep the way you did to your womb and she opened her eyes and squalled, gentle now, burrowing down soft and snug into me, you on your bicycle, trying not to wobble, while I try to hop on at the back, you steaming yourself pink in a hot bath, me massaging your wriggly toes, you opening your eyes and screaming because my face was so close, and then laughing, laughing, so light, so airy, and here we are, finally, the bouquet had fallen, the garter shed, and you smuggled me into a corner, impish, and showed me the slice of cake you'd hidden in your veil.


words: Elaine Chiew, U.K. (more)
photo: Christian Tuempling, NY (photographs)


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