1 -

red fading glow     eyes darkening
            like luxurious nights     itch of toes
in new socks     tiles sharp and cold     lime
            floating     staining    
breath wheezing     air is dead breath
            air     is yellow paint     on the walls of time
tell her it was you    did the thing
took the thing     tell her
            warm smell of sweat     damp socks
toenails digging     into your legs
            bare now     pale and compressed
scorpion : Neddal Ayad
C. L. Bledsoe
Charles P. Ries

This is how romance ends.  Years of practice seems to predict these endings making them bearable and understandable.  A long fading good bye.  Maybe age hardens us to hearts breaking.

Love used to be two mesmerized acrobats enjoying the abandon of random falls and experimental flight.  Now it's the lonely midget running in counter clockwise circles to the spinning of the earth.  Spinning to no where.

I don't care if the brunette with green eyes ever shows up.  I have plenty of cigarettes and cold beer to hold me together.  She came once.  I barely saw her that night in August.  Transparent mist-woman who evaporated as the sun rose and reappeared in the damp of early dusk.  I was 12 when she first came - laying on top my bed sheets.  Naked.  Hot.  The air did not move.  The dim light of my room showed me the ethereal figure of a headless woman.  Exposed and revealing nothing.  Motioning me to come in.  Young.  Frightened.  I pulled the covers over my head.  Now I would welcome her to bed - headless and all.

These beacons that draw me into dream time.  Gods with perfect breasts, long legs and shapely asses.  Always giving birth.  Matriarchal like some archetypal headache after too much drinking.  The intoxication of passion. The intoxicating love of God.

Islam has 99 names for God.  As a woman, it is Layla.  The female ideal we cry to at night.  The one we reach for, to save us.  "Layla look my way."

The Hindu's call her Maya - the lover and the destroyer.  Crush me between your legs of pure white porcelein. Crush the desire out of me.  The desire of perfect and complete supplication.  Lantern bearer to my basement soul.  Where I keep my shadows and tears wrapped in plastic.  Where I keep my words and my gold pens.

Women keep their secrets.  I know because I have heard them weeping outside the root cellar door.  "Are you O.K. mom?"  "Yes, I'm fine.  I am in here with your aunts and your sisters.  We are crushing horse radish root and onions for hot sauce.  It's going to be very hot Charley.  It's a glory to weep.  Women pray with their tears.  They love with their tears."

I didn't weep then.  I don't weep now, but I learned the mystery of tears.  I know each by name.  Not understanding them or stopping them, but drowning in them - submerging myself in tears.  The tears of exotic gods.

Waiting  for this end to begin again.  Remembering by keeping an image of her on a scapular that hangs around my neck like a millstone.  Like a false promise on the lips of a Pentecostal preacher under the great white tent on a hot, humid day in August.  Predicting the resurrection of love and the return to the root cellar.