My wife, who doesn't love me anymore,
she's said as much, is preparing dinner,
chicken, rice, and a vegetable--cabbage,
I think--while I flip through the TV
channels and try to find the evening news.
Ah, there it is. I don't want to hear it
and won't turn up the volume until she
comes to the threshold between the living
room and kitchen to tell me, Turn it up.
Sure, I say. And I do. Then she returns
to command, Louder, please. Sorry, I say.
How's that? What, she says. I can't hear you. So
I turn down the voices and am about
to say How's that again when I recall
how nuts that is, to lower the volume
to ask her, now that she can hear me, if
it's loud enough. I don't love me, either,
but that shouldn't mean that she shouldn't, too,
does it? It's ready, she says. So I get
our plates and glasses of milk and take them
back into the living room, where we sit
in front of the TV to eat, listen,
and not believe. It's good, I tell her. What,
she says. The Dow-Jones averages? No, I say.
I mean supper. It's good. That's right, she says.
What's for dessert, I say. Uh uh, she says
--no dessert. I'm on a diet, you know.
Well, sure, I say. But I'm not. We have to
share, she says. Of course, I say. But if there's
nothing for dessert then how do we share
nothing? Well, we share nothing everyday,
she says. Uh, I say. Oh. Well. Well, when you
put it that way, I say, that's depressing.
It's the truth, she says. I'm finished She's still
eating. I'm still hungry, I say. Me, too,
she says. Or will be. But I've got the will,
and we're married, so you have the will, too.
Oh, I say. Well. That's not much fun, is it.
We're married, she repeats. Like business. Fun
doesn't figure in. Oh, I say. Well. Uh.
There's a little flesh left on her thigh bone.
What do you want to do now, I say. Watch
TV, she says. I'm watching TV. News.
Jeopardy. The Price is Right. I can wash
the dishes, I say. You do that, she says
--knock yourself out. Minutes later my hands
plunge into soap and hot water. I close
my eyes and the water feels like fresh blood.
I open them and everything is pure
again. Nothing's cleaner than blood, I say,
loudly. Huh, she says. What did you say? I
didn't say anything, I lie. I close
my eyes again and the next dish that I
drown is still cool and smooth, like taut skin, but
heats quickly. I retrieve it, slick and blank.
Like Grandmother at the funeral home,
I say. What, she says. Were you calling me?
Yes, Baby, I say--would you like to die?
No, she says. Just let them dry in the rack.
Now I'm washing knives, short and long, and all
sharp. There she is, reflected in the steel,
but only the head--I don't see a neck
or torso anymore, unless I hold
the biggest one lengthwise, and then the arms
are amputated. I pull the plug and
everything goes down the drain except what's
snared in the strainer, bits of fat and flecks
and fibers that won't pass through the vortex.
I empty them into the trash. I kill
the light and take my place beside my love.
Jeopardy. These puzzles are too easy,
I say. Quiet, says my queen. Don't spoil it.