Our talking is a kudzu of carotids in which we lose our marbles. Hours later they tumble out as we are snoring, awakening us one at a time, hard little tumors we flick underneath one another. By morning we lie like border states whose boundaries are rivers, anomalously straight, canals funded by nature.
When I get nervous near you it's like a utility forms and hits a whole town with its too much. Everyone goes shed 'n' attic and unearths devices: those they need, those they never use, those borrowed and never returned, those they wish they'd borrowed and could thus return, those they don't recognize, those whose uses they can't fathom, those double-barreled ones which lend skulls cold spots, those too flimsy to withstand unearthing, those which served as stunt doubles for other devices once, in their heyday, those they don't really need. But want. Among them: electric utensils, rodent rotators, epilepsy-inducers, oars, spooling agents, laminators, pompadour replicators, run-on detectors, vaginal dredgers, mechanical fins, metronomic innards, palate-ticklers, religious spatulae, hissiphones. Those that look burnt but not flammable. Those that come off synthetic yet overripe. Those for pulling, for turning, for penetrating, for twisting and more. Thanks, we say, blushing, thanks. What they do with them is done, and then they are put gently back into their slots, slid onto the hooks and rafters, and eventually I can meet your gaze once more.
Next year starts my stint as anthropologist on that island where relationships and existential quandaries are thrashed out in small talk, and any mention of the weather or the pop diva‟s latest gown makes the strongest crack with weeping.
Even the tolls adjust on our approach. You catch them trembling and think it a trick of light. Whatever we hand over, coughed and culled from cushiony crevasses, is always “exact” and “change,” and still you clamp down, silent as mile markers, on one bald coin.
Whatever else we are, we are surely a beard that has convinced its owner to stop shaving. How long? No longer do we even notice the Unabomber comparisons, the razors orphaned in the snarl.
Tim Horvath is the author of Circulation, published by sunnyoutside press, and stories in Conjunctions, Fiction, Puerto del Sol, Sleepingfish, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing at Chester College of New England and Grub Street in Boston.