November 13, 2013

Sarah Freligh

Here is Your Fairytale

When she asks me again what I’m hiding from her in my briefcase, I look away and out the window. Mr. Adams is cutting his grass again, the third night this week. He’s a shadow in dusk, nothing but the mower’s buzz and moan, a trailing off as he stops to turn a row, the way an argument dies when it’s not kindled with words.

“I made tiramisu,” she says. She folds her napkin into eighths, snuggles it against her plate. Makes a little cell of her fingers, imprisoning a triangle of air, the way she does when she’s dying to say something but doesn’t. She knows that once started, she’ll never quit.

“How do you think he does that?” I gesture toward the window.

She barely turns her head. “Smoke and mow at the same time?”

Those straight rows, I say. No scraggle between them, not a blade. I wonder whether there are lessons, maybe at Lowe’s or someplace: Lawn Mowing 101. I imagine my lawn as a destination: people driving up from downstate just to look at my lawn, my beautiful, neat rows. I will dress in tweeds and carry a stick to point out the finer points of lawn mowing.

She will love me enough again to trust me.

Here is the fairy tale: There was an elevator and on the elevator was a woman who took a bullet-shaped lipstick from her handbag and applied a red mouth over her rose pink one. The elevator bucked and bumped, and her hand never wavered. By the time we reached the lobby I was in love, or so I thought.

Here is the ending of the fairy tale: I kept the Kleenex she discarded. Nights when she’s asleep, I take it out and admire the nearly perfect oval of a red, red mouth.

I keep the Kleenex in my briefcase, under lock and key.

[editor's favorite, 2013]


Sarah Freligh is the author of A Brief Natural History of an American Girl, the winner of the Editor's Choice Award from Accents Publishing, and Sort of Gone, a book of poems. Her work has been featured in Brevity, The Sun, Barn Owl Review and Rattle. Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a poetry grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation in 2006, and a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts in 1997.

No comments: