Page 32 - WTP VOl. VIII #7
P. 32

The Woman (continued from preceding page)
 —He’s doing different stuff. Obits, police blotters. —Ten hours of any kind of writing will wear you down.
—There are some kinds of writing that can actually be renewing. I’ve had that experience from time to time.
—I don’t want to argue with you.
The quick decline. The faintest shadowy check. She thought he spoke from mere opinion. If she did not include the deep perspective of his experience in her life, who did? He not only became silent, but with- drew from speech. The Big Negate.
He went out on the deck. Nothing works. There was not enough of him to shake a stick at, but what was there took ample pummeling. Whiplash speed jarred him into seeing her double image. He shook his head to clear the blurring.
Like the folk tale where the man had to hold on to the woman he loved as she changed shape. Snarling wolf, hissing snake. Wood thrush, sunbeam, snowstorm, toxic ooze. Vulture, dragon, quake. The trick was holding on.
No, the trick was staying with the actual, not letting that get lost in the fixed image.
He was taking metaphor seriously now, he noticed. He had to hold on without holding on. How do you do that?
A soft rain pattered briefly on the deck umbrella. The rain’s origins went back to when the moon was made. A moist breeze riffled through the top of a silver maple. A crow flew down, and spoke to George.
—I don’t think you’ve heard this before. George waited.
—I won’t say it again.
There were two women, the one who saw him when she looked at him and the one who saw something else; and he thought of a third.
Was it
her cordiform face, peach-shaped rear, unexpected fullness of her breasts
like widewater turnarounds
on a canal he was rafting.
It brought new knowledge of the world the touch of her curves
through her close-fitting shorts
as did the evenings he walked with her
during her pregnancies mysterious and intuitive, as did his presence at her roof-lifting birthings when her shape-shifting peaked.
He had been astonished to hear a man say he could not look at his wife with the same desire after he saw her give birth, and when another agreed. He wondered if they saw something he did not, or if there was some- thing he saw they did not, or something that just was, the implicit fecundity of her form compact.
“If she did not include the deep perspective of his ex-
perience in her life, who did?”
He remembered how after their first child was born she became more at ease around him; for example, peeing while he was shaving, and how he was aware of her peripherally, as she was not self-conscious be- cause he did not make her so—in those blissful days when they allowed things between them to just be— and how she settled around the act, her chin resting on a hand, or with hands folded, relaxed in this act of release, her posture expressing the idea that what- ever else might be going on, no matter what problems there were or unseen complications forming, she still had to pee, and it felt good. This was the truth of her life at the moment, and she wasn’t thinking of how she looked, or who she was to someone else, and this made her all the more alluring in his eyes, which he later understood was because he had been too long deprived of this simple connection she was offering, a connection to something besides himself or anyone, a connection he had always unknowingly longed for.
He decided this was the woman he believed she was.
Pruitt is assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. His stories have appeared in Indiana Voice Journal, Adelaide Literary Review, Oyster River Pages, Sick Lit, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Visitant, Midway, and Hypertext. He has published poems in Ploughshares,, Cottonwood, Country Journal, Blueline, Ra- vensperch, Otis Nebula, and Stoneboa, among others; in two chap- books from White Pine and FootHills; and the self-published Walking Home from the Eastman House. He has performed his original story, “Two Kinds of Fear,” a documented telling of the lives of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass at various venues in Rochester. He taught English to non-native speakers for twenty-six years.

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