portion of the artwork for Michael Cooper's fiction
Michael Cooper

So I hear that you are living out by the docks now. I hear that you’ve taken to bed that woman who sells lockets with daguerreotypes of the ubiquitous ancestor; pull open the cheap clasp and gold will rub off on your fingers. Pull open the clasp and the blurry face that greets you could be your own had you turned out a pale, 19th-century woman or a beige, pre-Civil War male fond of his wooden teeth and top hats. I hear that your new girlfriend’s parents named her Virginia. I hear when she’s hot and ready for love, she smells like a steakhouse dumpster after a busy night.

I hear she complains about your green wallpaper, tells you to buy a real refrigerator so you won’t have to keep your tangerines and bananas in a Styrofoam ice chest. She doesn’t care that you slipped out of your mother’s womb into the hands of William Carlos Williams. She doesn’t even know who William Carlos Williams is, can’t appreciate what you mean when you say your skin’s cells are built from spondee and diphthongs rubbed off from the poet’s hands. She can’t even cook veal. She can’t even imagine the boxed baby cow waiting to become the veal. She’ll never be able to appreciate how you think Olivia Newton-John’s hipbones look hot jutting underneath purple tights. You probably won’t even tell her. You probably don’t even remember.

At night, you look out the window at the glistening docks and dim-lit globular streetlamps like flashlights poised on the back of old people’s heads, see men pour out from the fishing boats ready to marry the first woman they encounter, see these men head straight for Virginia’s misty trinket stand. When one exhausts all of his seafaring wages on every locket she owns, I hope it feels as though your cock and balls have been nailed to a small cross.

Do you recognize my handwriting? If you lost the capacity to read the words, would you be able to ascertain my vehemence by my vowel’s slant. Can you tell that I still have feelings for you by the width of my O’s, not love, but love’s ugly stepchild, odium with a capital S because you know how much I love salt, but it’s going to kill me one day. Your son lives on an island and spends his time concocting all-natural sun block made of goat hair and coconut and he actually thinks this will make him a millionaire one day. Your daughter wants to date a woman named Werewolf, which of course retards one’s chances of finding love, even on those nights when the moon hangs full. And as you stand by your window every night, as you look down on Virginia, your lumpy, diphthong heart ushers thoughts of going national with cheap gold lockets, selling them on QVC maybe, making a million, too.

I had a dream the other night and you were in it. You must have your dreams, too, but am I anywhere near them? Some nights you hijack mine; OK, but please be nice, will you? Take us to some country locale, you pulling a heavy bucket from a water well, me recumbent in a chaise lounge, and perched on my stomach a white plate with a salty t-bone (which quickly turns into a bowl of peppered broccoli, very hot and still a little wet from boiling). This is a rabbit farm of sorts, little furry things hopping. Fur, optimism, and love all around.

Return to Archive

FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 36 | Spring 2012