Gary Percesepe

Say Her Name

Bodies matter, the way they break
open, the way fluids spill. In my dream
she stands at the foot of my bed wearing a half-smile,
her nose twitching, her hands holding a wine opener.
Say her name.  She lies on top of me on the white couch
in the living room watching Breaking Bad; the satiny weight
of her, the silver tip of the corkscrew rests on my chest.
 Say her name. My hands palm her breasts;
her teeth are even and white. She leans back and twists her
neck to kiss me. Her face rivals Helen’s but this is
Buffalo, not Troy. Why am I here? I’m here to
document the disease of naming what we want and never
wanting what we get, the way she has become both the poison
and the cure. She is one hundred countries I’ll never
visit, ten thousand islands where like Crusoe I’m  stranded.
Why am I here? I am here to learn again the calculus of
loss, the difficult arithmetic of the recalcitrant heart.
Outside, a snowplow crunches snow that once cradled
angels, a killing blizzard we slept through, white
waves of sex and sleep, the first time as fantasy the second
time as farce. It was in the kitchen where we would often
hold each other. I placed my arms around her waist,
she would position her arms on my shoulders.
We’d stand there for a few minutes. The dishwasher
chugged its cycle, the refrigerator hummed its one dumb
note. From the faucet, drops dripped. We gazed at each
other as if in a mirror. Now, angry angels tiny as pinpricks
burrow beneath my corkscrewed skin, screaming from tiny tongues
say her name! I refuse. They split me with their stares.

Every angel is terrible. All bodies know how to open, one needn’t choose;
any wild animal may enter any open door. Why am I here?
I am here to learn again the calculus of loss, the difficult
arithmetic of the heart. To remember her smile, her face composed
beneath my dripping heart, a face more Greek than Italian.
Keats’ perfect urn. I smile at the thought of it: the living room.
Everything I wanted was in that room. Where ashes of our sorrow now
lie buried in her soft white couch, in the space we wrapped
Christmas presents and prepared to give everything away.

 

Join the conversation