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Say Her Name


by Gary Percesepe


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 resting 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 twice, white

waves of sex and sleep, the first time as fantasy the second

time as farce. In the kitchen 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. 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.

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