The Arctic Circle
Wind shook the fence around our yard. A shadow appeared beneath the window. But it wasn't the marble statue or a deer. It wasn't the birdbath with its small store of ice. The shadow was cast by your first wife, returning after our wedding. So long after she'd left that you'd stopped watching for signs.
The garden was all thistle and frost. I was surprised she recognized the small iron gate, the iced-over trees. For years I had been living in her house, wearing her clothes, answering to her name.
I could no longer step outside without my hands shaking. Your real wife stood there like a buck, waiting to charge.
After you left for work, my hair lightened. My mouth turned the color of your first wife's favorite lipstick: light pink, with the tiniest hint of shimmer. I placed my old clothes in boxes, started to label them. Then I struck a match, lit them all on fire.
When you got home, dinner was waiting. Forks and knives glittered next to our plates. Before long you saw the heap of ashes in the living room. I had swept them into a little pile beneath the armchair. But you never asked how the fire started.
You stood there with your hair slicked backed, smiling. Then you touched my blonde hair, my pale pink lips, and said, This is why I married you . . .
Little dishes lined the cabinet above the stove. When we moved into the house, I made you coffee every morning.
The stove was old, but I didn't expect it to turn the bottom of the kettle black. I poured your coffee into a china cup. You drank it slowly because it never tasted right. I always made too much, and you didn't want me to know. So when you left for the office, you took the cup and saucer with you.
The dishes started to disappear. Before long the cabinet was almost empty. Then one morning as I made your coffee, my ring fell in the cup. I knew it was only a matter of time before everything else would be carried away.
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Drunken Boat’s very own Matthew Hamilton reviews Kristina Marie Darling’s Requited.
Imagine coming home one day and finding out that your wife packed all her belongings, and the only thing left of hers was a note, laying there like a cold memory, that read, “I’m not happy anymore. Take care.” Imagine an empty space where the word Love should have been above her signature. Imagine scratching your head as you struggle to understand why this has happened to you. Imagine your emotions freezing inside of you like an impatient winter storm.
For me, Kristina Marie Darling’s poetry collection, Requited, could not have come at a better time. As someone recently going through a divorce, after reading this collection, I feel confident saying that I understand the frozen space of a damaged heart, of an experience so hurtful it often leaves me reeling in angst with every thought I have of my soon to be ex-wife from the moment I read her letter.
But poetry is good for the soul, and Darling’s words spoke to me like a skilled therapist speaks to a client, or a priest speaking to a parishioner in the mysterious confines of the confessional.
These graceful prose poems, no more than five lines in length, describe a love affair that is like a “rose garden in the dead of winter,” which sets the pace for the rest of this 41 page book with its blizzardy cold conditions. Of course, this is all metaphor to how the narrator is feeling, miserable to say the least. She is a dead flower with “cold blue lips,” “a heroine counting unfaithful stars.” And these simple, yet profound lines will pervade the reader with sympathy and understanding, especially for those readers that have experienced, or are currently experiencing, a failing relationship.
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GOING WITH THE FLOW by PETER SIEDLECKI
THE SPEED OF OUR LIVES by GRACE C. OCASIO
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