The book of poetry was sitting on the porch, half held by an envelope the dog had torn apart. The only word on the cover: salt. I lay down on the couch, boots still on, and start reading. Every page is a punch to the throat. Every tiny poem, a flinching strand of pain. How did she know to send this one? How does she know which knife will so effortlessly cut me open?
'What's that?" Rob walks in the room, seeing the torn paper next to me.
"A book of poetry." Tears are clouding my vision.
"Who sent it?"
"She did. She sent everything." The children's books and board game are upstairs, unwrapped but untouched. I don't want to field the girls' questions about where she's been. I don't want to tell them which desert she's walking through now.
"Oh," he says. I think he's afraid of my tears. When we met I used to cry like it was breathing, as if it were essential to my survival. I used to feel so intensely and so freely and without shame. Feeling was my primary function. But all of this, motherhood, marriage, responsibility, has turned me into a doer. Feeling has become frivolous, a luxury for the childless. Now I cry only when something threatens to break me. Now when a crack runs through that essential armor, I am afraid too.
I find it more than a little ironic that I've become just another person who makes painful art in her honor, just another person whose plans were destroyed by her whims. I hate feeling unoriginal. Don't we all, I guess. But I was never supposed to feel this way. I was supposed to be immune from the wrath of her flippancy. I was supposed to be the calm to her storm. And yet my attempts at getting out of this storm are so futile. She can rip me open in a single page. I am just as weak as every man that has foolishly fallen for her only to find promises that shatter like glass.
It takes me two nights to finish the book and when I do my own poetry spills out of me. The poems are dribble, nonsense words written in haste. But it feels so good to finally write, to feel like I've been washed clean of so many months of my own suffocating thoughts. This is why I will never give up on her, I think. Even when she wrecks me she still manages to remind me just who I am. That's her magic.