by Myfanwy Collins

This was the guy who quoted Pygmalion, as if I were his diamond in the rough. And this was the guy who stood in the driveway, a real Gatsby, and spread out his arms and said, “This is my house,” as if I were made holy there.

But his friend (the one renting the little house from him—the front house, the small house, the house that was once a post office where I had collected my mail on summer mornings, the box key shiny from the many fingers before mine, the postmaster in visor, waiting for the guests to arrive, the sun shallow across the lake) found him five days too late. And so he died. But I carried his mark.

It was in this smaller of the two houses, with bead-board walls and those plastic curtains for doors, where it happened. It was in the house with Hank Williams on the turntable. It was in that house where he brought me behind the curtain and said my hair reminded him of riding in a boat before the thunder, when the static brings it all alive, forms a halo.

Then his dry lips anointed my forehead.

It would have been around now that he went into that other, bigger house—the back house, the veranda house, the death house—with a bottle, a coyote denning up somewhere. Pawing the ground in a circle, waiting for winter to end, curling around himself and looking up at the pockmarked sky, seeing the two of us on a boat near the island where blueberries grow and knowing how my hand would fit into his, silk on silk. And how, with the form of his lips a stigmata upon me, his eyes would shine down as I waited, away, far away, for sleep, gentle, gentle, for sleep.