from an expat on YouTube
living in Yokohama with her family.
He copies Van Gogh’s wheat stacks, his chickens,
pens single words suspended in the mid-air of printer paper,
then scrawls angry cumulous clouds overtop to make them disappear.
I like to imagine what they might have been:
engine, sanctuary, dazzling reinforcement. He never draws
bombs or helicopters, severed limbs or faces, so when he makes me
into a picture I’m looking away toward a mosaic of lakes, holding my dead
father’s hand. He draws proverbs, eyeglasses, the train station and two beers
from that Hemingway story. When we fly,
we tuck my husband’s hands into the seatbelt so
he doesn’t accidentally punch a passenger in his sleep.
My husband will do anything to leave the world and anything
to remain inside of it. Just last week our neighbor meant to drive
his wife to Thursday’s Bingo at church but
something in his brain went wonks and they ended up
in an Orlando CVS parking lot, my sister’s favorite city from
this world. My husband is ashamed of his penmanship so sometimes
I find him writing What on earth is going on? in cursive, over and over.
I don’t like to imagine the pamphlet
of soldiers who take pleasure in war, though
we know they exist. What my sister loves about Orlando
is her one week in it years ago time-buoyed on a hammock,
the hotel pool water dyed gem-mine purple. So much sand trafficked
in that no sadness could infiltrate her.
I never asked our dad if he missed being able to walk,
and when my husband draws bridges, they’re built of small crosshatching strikes.
When I ask where they’re headed he says nowhere like it’s obvious, kind of beaming.
My husband names the field he’s drawing Femur,
titles the graphite rock souffle
over which a pilot flies Doorway, names
the first turkey he ever sketches War, confessing
that plumage is the ultimate motherfucker for his shaking hands.
He’s distrustful of windchimes, boys rough-housing in the street before dark,
enjoys those pale ales that don’t
have any booze in them. Any school stuff
he’s learned comes from library books so there exists
a zillion words he’s never heard aloud: crevasse, Bronte, glissando, jubilance. He’s flown over Wichita, Kabul, Bucharest, the back of a bull
before he turned twelve for money.
When we met, my husband slept on a mat and stored
barrels of salt beneath the floorboards of his own home. To cure
meat, to fallow thy neighbor’s land if pressed. All kid-me knew to threaten
at the dead end of Lawson’s Fork Creek after anyone tried to pull down my shorts
or drew a pen knife or claimed to know
the Buick tag numbers of my gramma was: I’m going home, as if that amounted to anything more
than a place we passed on the way to some private sector of woods
that actually listened the few times we cropped up crying. My husband’s
painting of a moat places second
at Fayetteville’s county fair. He’s unhappy
with the crowds, not the pastel of two lambs
hunkered down in a Walmart parking lot taking gold.
My husband’s never heard the word satire, doesn’t think there’s anything funny
about getting lost.
Mamie Morgan lives in the woods with her husband and their two dogs, Henrietta Modine and Wednesday Stewart. Her first full-length manuscript, Everyone I’ve Danced With Is Dead, is forthcoming from JackLeg Press.
Header image, Wheat Field with Crows, by Vincent Van Gogh, courtesy Wikipedia. Photo of Mamie Morgan by Will Crooks.